Representatives from local government on both sides of the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary have signed an agreement to work together to promote, explore and enable the strategic and sustainable development of the region’s vast offshore renewable energy resources.
Whilst the region has the potential to contribute as much as 14GW of low carbon energy to the UK’s energy mix, the estuary represents a complex and unique mix of valuable environmental and economic assets, activities and stakeholders. These must be protected and, where possible, enhanced as energy projects are introduced. Local government will need to play an increasing role working with Government, project developers and other stakeholders to achieve this.
The respective councils of Bristol, Cardiff, Devon, Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Newport, North Devon, North Somerset, Sedgemoor and West Somerset have formed the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary Energy Group to oversee their strategic cooperation. It will promote a holistic and incremental approach to developing projects, as described in the Bristol Channel Energy – A Balanced Technology Approach paper, commissioned by Bristol City Council in 2012. Membership is however open to any local authority that has an interest in the sustainable development of the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary, and other local authorities are expected to join the Energy Group in the future.
On the 9 December, the group will meet at the Sustainable Severn roundtable with environmental and economic stakeholders, including industry, project developers, academia, and regulatory bodies. The resulting guiding principles will integrate with strategic work carried out in related initiatives such as the Severn Estuary Partnership stakeholder group.
Bill Edrich, Energy Service Director at Bristol City Council, said: “Local authorities are facing pressure to decarbonise and to ensure the resilience of their constituencies. These have been principal drivers for Bristol in its year as European Green Capital 2015, and will continue to be so. Developing offshore renewables locally will not only help us to reduce carbon emissions, but will also build upon and support long-term economic growth and expertise in the region.
We have long recognised the energy potential of the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary, and are closer than ever to harnessing it. It makes sense for local authorities to play a role in driving these offshore developments sensibly and in ensuring the long-term sustainability of this unique resource. The establishment of the Energy Group will help us to achieve that.”
Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Housing, said: “Newport City Council welcomes the opportunity to participate in this innovative project that will benefit from the collaborative involvement of the Great Western Cities on both sides of the water.
“This scheme proposes to treat the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary as an holistic energy system. We look forward to seeing how multiple technologies could be deployed over time to harness the range of energy resources throughout these waterways, in a way which generates significant energy and economic benefits for the region, and is in-balance with the environment and other marine users.”