§ 27. Mr. Palmer
asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he will authorise the further studies, recommended by the Select Committee on Science and Technology, on the feasibility of the Severn tidal power scheme, namely (a) the effect on the tidal regime, where there is an urgent need to explain the discrepancies between recent Hydrographic Research Survey work and previous studies, (b) general environmental questions, (c) effect on shipping, Central Electricity Generating Board operations, riparian land usage and water authorities, (d) further studies of the wave regime in the estuary, with references to effects on both the construction of the barrage and to the effects on shipping waiting to pass through the locks in the barrage, and (e) the non-energy benefits directly associated with a barrage.
§ Mr. Benn,
pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 8th May 1978; Vol. 949, col. 407], gave the following further information:
I am today presenting to Parliament the Government's reply to the Third and Fourth Reports from the Select Committee on Science and Technology on the Development of Alternative Sources of Energy for the United Kingdom and Exploitation of Tidal Power in the Severn Estuary.
The Government agree with the Select Committee that work on the alternative sources should be pursued with urgency and determination, but consider 3W that the limitation of making faster progress is not the level of funding for research and development but the state of the technologies involved. Nevertheless, it will keep the level of funding under close review. The reply to the Select Committee announces that, in the light of results so far, expenditure on alternative sources is to be increased by £4.5 million.
The Government also accept the recommendation in the Select Committee's Fourth Report that a Severn Barrage Committee should be set up with responsibility for further work on assessing Severn Barrage schemes and their feasibility. It will establish such a committee, under the chairmanship of my Chief Scientist, Sir Hermann Bondi, and has provisionally allocated £1.5 million for further studies to be recommended by the new committee. I shall be making a further announcement about the committee's membership shortly.
This allocation brings the total increase in funding for research and development on the alternative sources to £6 million and makes a total Government commitment of about £16 million. The Government are determined that work on the alternative sources of energy should be given high priority and will be prepared, in the light of progress, to make further sums available for the more promising lines of development.