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Angling Trust Concern over Private Severn Estuary Barrage

15.12.11

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The Angling Trust is warning that a privately funded barrage across the Severn Estuary could destroy some local freshwater and marine fish populations and have a massive impact on angling nationally.

Corlan Hafren, a private consortium, has made a new proposal to generate electricity from a barrage. Last year, after a two-year feasibility study, the Government rejected a range of publicly-funded proposals. The Angling Trust is joining WWF and the RSPB in voicing concern about the environmental damage that the new proposal could cause.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, said: "Last year, the Government's study found a range of problems including damage to fish populations. A barrage would make various migratory fish extinct locally, including species protected under the EU Habitats Directive because of their importance. Salmon and sea trout would probably disappear from the Wye, Usk and Severn as well as other smaller rivers. A quarter of the salmon producing area in England and Wales lies behind the proposed line of the barrage and rivers outside could also be affected."

"All four U.K. populations of shad [note 1] would be affected, as they migrate in and out of the rivers Wye, Severn, Usk and Tywi. The rivers of the Severn Estuary are also some of the most important in the country for eels. The European population of eels has declined drastically in recent years so that it now has protected status. A Severn barrage could be another nail in its coffin."

"It's not only fish migrating to and from rivers that would be affected. Sea fish, such as flounder, cod and bass, migrate into the estuary. It may be a nursery area for local and Irish Sea stocks, though its importance is not well understood. We haven't seen details of the scheme yet but, if Corlan Hafren want to generate on both the flood and the ebb tides it could be even more destructive than those rejected last year for public funding."

"The Corlan Hafren website recognises that there are significant environmental problems but suggest that steps can be taken to mitigate and compensate for them. Judging by the Government's feasibility study, this would seem to be wishful thinking for the fish."

Editor's Note:
1. Shad are species of herring which, like salmon, migrate from the sea into rivers to spawn. There are two species of shad in the UK: the Allis and Twaite.

2. The Angling Trust is the representative body for all game, sea and coarse anglers in England. Its legal arm, Fish Legal works throughout the UK to protect its members' waters from pollution and other damage.

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