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Renewable energy schemes must work in harmony with nature, says RSPB

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RSPB LOGOIn response to a Government announcement about planning consent for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon scheme, Mark Robins, Senior Policy Officer for RSPB, said: “Harnessing the tidal power of the Severn can make an important contribution to the UK’s renewable energy targets. But any renewable scheme must work in harmony with nature. The Severn Estuary is a vital part of a European-wide network of wildlife sites; a crucial staging post for migratory birds and fish.

“The Swansea Lagoon may be a useful test-case for this technology but we expect that approval is conditioned, at the very least, with high quality monitoring. The scheme will have to work hard to prove its environmental credentials and demonstrate clearly how it is managing its environmental impact. There remains uncertainty about its effects on fish and sedimentation, the latter potentially effecting the value of the estuary for birds and other wildlife.

“We also hope that momentum for a lagoon does not crowd out politically and practically other choices and technologies that might prove better ways to spend money on low-carbon energy generation in and around the estuary.

“Furthermore, the green light for this scheme should not be seen as opening the floodgates to multiple similar schemes on the estuary that, cumulatively, could be hugely damaging to this precious and valuable place.

“There may also be issues over the sourcing of material for the construction of the Swansea lagoon – if stone from south Cornwall is to be used. Again this needs to be done in harmony with the local environment.”

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