Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Severn Barrage Folly

Easiest way to avoid dealing with a really tricky problem is to pretend that there is some grand painless solution. Its an added bonus if it can be described as 'visionary'. Even better if it requires a few years of research before a final decision (which can come back to haunt) has to be taken. Step forward 'The Severn Barrage'.

The really tricky problem is the UK's long term energy supply. The current Government has simply refused to face up to the big decisions needed. The Government has piddled about pretending that wind power can make a significant difference. Almost no investment in tidal power. Not much more in clean coal technology. And it has refused to decide whether the UK has to build more nuclear power capacity - because it is a tough decision. Much as I dislike the idea of new nuclear generation capacity, I can no longr see any alternative. There is going to be one hell of a panic when the lights go out. Much easier to spend millions on researching whether a Severn Barrage is feasible.

Well, I don't like it. It could cause massive ecological damage. It would totally destroy the rural nature of the Vale of Glamorgan - converting it into a Greater Cardiff. It would result in an Assembly budget skewed even more than it is now towards SE Wales. Talk of a Severn Barrage is just a sideshow to avoid facing up to the nuclear question. OK, so I see that my party is supporting the feasibility research. So, I'll have to live with that. And as long as the result is not fixed in some way, I'd have to accept a 'positive' result. Problem for me is that I see a Labour Government which has published a Planning White Paper which proposes new mechanisms to virtually eliminate public consultation on major planning proposals. I see a Labour Government which is willing to fix things to get the result that they want. I really can see a British Government ignoring EU law, fixing the planning system, and being willing to spend mega billions on a white elephant, simply because it sounds good.

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