The Hendry Review, released today, has been welcomed by the Wildlife Trusts in Wales for recognising that any tidal lagoon development in the UK should be subject to strict monitoring of any impacts of the technology on the marine environment.
The Hendry Review, an independent study, was commissioned by the UK Government following Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP)’s plans to build tidal lagoons along the Severn Estuary to harness tidal power, has come out in support of the development of a pathfinder tidal lagoon project at Swansea.
The Hendry Review recognised that tidal lagoons are an as-yet untested technology, and as such was unable “to give an absolutely factual assessment of full life-cycle of environmental consequences” of the Swansea lagoon. The Review also stated that “[i]t will be necessary in many cases for developers of potential tidal lagoon sites to make good the loss of existing habitat for wildlife in order to comply with the Habitats and Birds Directives. Although this would not affect Tidal Lagoon in Swansea Bay, it is anticipated that Tidal Lagoon Cardiff alone would require a very significant amount of such ‘compensatory habitat’.”
The Wildlife Trusts believe that mitigation in the Severn Estuary will be very difficult due to the substantial loss of mudflats that are essential for 75,000 migratory birds.
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However, we are pleased that the Review has recognised this and it recommends that “should tidal lagoons be built, the Government should require a high level of on-going monitoring of environmental impacts to ensure that mitigation can be put in place where impacts are judged to require it.”
The Wildlife Trusts in Wales are also pleased that the report recommends a pause between Swansea becoming operational and other plans for lagoons starting. We would like to see at least 8 years pause to cover two fish-spawning cycles.
The Wildlife Trusts support renewable energy and the UK’s current targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Sarah Kessell, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said:
“The Wildlife Trusts support renewable energy and the UK’s current targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, tackle climate change and increase the proportion of overall energy generated from alternative sources. We welcome plans to develop our understanding of this technology, particularly the impact on fish populations. We firmly believe that renewable energy needs to be ‘right technology, right place’. The development of renewable energy should not be at the expense of biodiversity. The State of Nature report showed 60% of our wildlife is in decline. We cannot accept further loss of important habitats or species.”
Natural Resources Wales have raised serious concerns about the impact of the proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay on fish, particularly salmon and sea trout. Modelling of the impacts on fish is now recognised as unreliable and flawed. The Wildlife Trusts believe that no tidal lagoon developments should be consented until substantial research has been completed into the environmental impacts of this new technology. By viewing the Swansea Bay as a pathfinder, we can begin to get a clearer picture of the impacts of this new technology on the marine environment before it is rolled out in further locations across the country.
With the largest tidal range in Europe, a vast array of wildlife, rich cultural heritage and a wild and beautiful landscape, the Severn Estuary is one of the UK’s great natural wonders and a globally important site for nature. The Severn is home to over 100 different species of fish, the highest diversity of any UK estuary.
Sarah Kessell, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, continued:
“It is important that any decisions adhere to the Well-being of Future Generations Act which requires any decisions to take account of the resilience of ecosystems and biodiversity. Any decision will also need to comply with the duty under the Environment Act to sustainably manage natural resources.”