MPs urged to back alternatives to Severn barrage as better way to harness energy potential of Bristol Channel

MP’s on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, who are investigating the feasibility of a large scale barrage across the Bristol Channel, today heard from Regen SW director Johnny Gowdy that an alternative approach would offer a better solution for the environment and industry.

Johnny Gowdy said “There is no question that the Bristol Channel offers a fantastic potential energy resource – and we need to deploy large scale projects to harness this energy effectively to combat climate change – most people we have spoken to in the energy industry, however, do not believe that a big barrage solution is the right answer”.

“Regen SW have been working closely with the tidal industry since 2010 since the publication of the Severn Tidal Feasibility Study, to see how large scale energy could be produced from the Bristol channel without the need for a full scale barrage would have a massive impact on both the ecology of the channel and upstream ports such as Bristol”.

“Our approach is based on looking at the channel as a holistic ‘energy system’ and adopting a strategy to deploy multiple technologies such as tidal steam, tidal fences, lagoons, wind and wave power.”

A recent report produced by Regen SW and the specialist consultancy firm Marine Energy Matters, identified that a Balanced Technology Approach could provide between 5 GW and 14 GW of renewable energy capacity. The approach, which has received widespread backing from the industry including tidal technology developers and the South West Marine Energy Park, would enable new technologies to be developed and installed as the technology is proven, impacts understood and costs reduced.

Johnny Gowdy said “A balanced technology approach is a much more sustainable way to develop renewable energy in the Bristol Channel. These would still be very large projects but the deployment would be far easier to manage than a single one off barrage.”

The original barrage proposals were largely dismissed by the government following publication of a 2 year long study back in 2010.


Notes to Editors

About the Enquiry

Details of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee enquiry can be found at:

The enquiry can be viewed here: at approximately 11.25 for Johnny Gowdy .

About Regen SW
Regen SW is a leading independent, not-for-profit, centre of expertise in sustainable energy. Its mission is to enable business, local authorities, communities and other organisations to deliver ground-breaking renewable energy and energy efficiency projects with thriving local supply chains.

About the Report
The report Bristol Channel Energy: A Balanced Technology Approach is available from the Regen SW website: Bristol balanced technology approach 

About the South West Marine Energy Park

The UK Government has promoted the creation of the Marine Energy Park (MEP) as part of its strategy to support the development of the UK marine energy sector.
The South West MEP was designated as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park in January 2012 and covers the geographic area from the Severn Estuary and around the coast of Cornwall to the Isle of Wight. The designation recognises the fantastic energy resources that the south west offers. This includes wave, wind, tidal stream and tidal range resources – as well as the clusters of research, industry and supply chain around the hub areas of Bristol, Plymouth and Cornwall.

The aim of the South West MEP is to create a business environment that will accelerate the commercial development of the marine energy sector. To do this the South West MEP has established a powerful partnership which now consists of over 80 organisations from the private sector, research organisations, universities and public bodies.

For more details about the South West MEP please download the prospectus at

To interview Johnny Gowdy please contact the office on 01392494399