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SAVE OUR SEVERN

MARTIN SALTER was back in front of his former colleagues as a witness in Thursday’s House of Commons select committee inquiry into the Severn Barrage. 

It’s great that the Angling Trust is now viewed by both parliamentarians and government as the organisation they want to hear from on issues affecting fish and fisheries.

As regular readers of this blog will know the Angling Trust has been working closely with our colleagues in the other main environmental and fisheries groups in highlighting the very real threats posed by building a massive concrete barrage across the Severn estuary complete with over 1,000 ‘fish-mincing turbines’ operating 24 hours a day.

Our coalition of concern includes the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), RSPB, Worldwide Fund for Nature, Wildlife Trusts, Wye & Usk Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Severn Rivers Trust, Salmon & Trout Association and Campaign to Protect Rural England.

We also joined in our evidence session in front of the Energy and Climate Change Committee by the National Trust who I feel will prove to be valuable partners in this campaign.

We all told the committee that we are not a bunch of Nimbys and that we supported in principle tidal energy development in the Severn but that the current proposal lacks detail and claims that it would not unacceptably damage wildlife and large areas of habitat are “not realistic”.

Actually, that was being polite because the developers, a mob called Hafren Power, have been downright misleading and their press statements have been verging on the dishonest.

Martin told the Committee a full-width barrage across the estuary would mean fish dying due to sudden changes in water pressure and salinity, and through turbine strikes.

He told them: “Claims that these turbines are fish friendly are absolute guff. This is 24/7 fish mincing machine.

‘Turbines kill fish above a tip speed of 6-7 metres per second. The Hafren proposal is for a tip speed of 9 metres per second. How on earth can they make press statements that these are ‘fish-friendly’? They are simply not. 

‘This drives a coach and horses through all environmental protections that governments have signed up to.

‘The impact could be absolutely devastating on both the commercial fishery, on the recreational fishery and on highly protected habitat.”

If anyone is interested in watching the evidence session we were on from 10.29 to 11.26am on Thursday January 10th and you can find it here.  This has also been picked up by the Guardian and the BBC.

 

So what next?

We have made it clear that the Angling Trust and Fish Legal stands ready to fight any attempts to bypass the hard fought legal protection we have secured for our fisheries and the environment upon which they depend.

For this barrage to proceed the UK would have to accept the destruction of the main salmon and sea trout runs in England and Wales, huge damage to migrations of highly protected species such as shad, lamprey and eels as well massive impacts on the environment of the Bristol Channel and the host of marine species for which this is an important nursery area.

None of this seems ‘fish friendly’ to me and we’ll be fighting it all the way with the support of our members.

And the next battle…

I’m writing this on the train up to London as we head for a big showdown with Environment Agency bosses over their continuing and ridiculous support for hydropower on our rivers which could do untold damage to our coarse and game fish stocks for generations.  I’ll let you know next week how we got on.  In the meantime, hope you catch a few this weekend…

 

All this work depends on members and donors to make it happen.  If you’re not a member, now’s the time to back us so that we can protect and improve your fishing. It only takes 5 minutes at www.anglingtrust.net or by phoning 0844 7700616 during office hours (press 1 for membership).

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