Green Party Position

The Green Party official position, like Friends of the Earth, is against the Barrage and for lagoons.
This puts me in a difficult position as a Parliamentary and (possibly) Euro election GP candidate.

Faced with a barrage question on a political panel, I would say this:

"My Party is against the barrage because of its environmental impact,
and because it is big. However, the Green Party has a decentralised
structure, and does not impose a party whip. My local party in North
Somerset on the Estuary is broadly in favour of the barrage, as I am,
for the following reasons:

1. Although the biggest contribution to meeting our energy needs lies
in conservation and energy efficiency, it is imperative for the
UK to generate energy from renewable sources, and the Barrage
offers a huge 5% of our electricity needs, and even more if it is
designed as a platform for wind and wave power as well as tide.
Since we oppose nuclear, coal, oil and gas, we cannot reasonably
reject the Barrage out of hand. I beleive that studies that show
how we can generate our electricity from renewables all (?)
include a tidal power contribution.
2. The wetland habitat can be defended with careful design, using
artificial reefs to extend the exposed area of mud. The barrage
will even protect the wetlands in the long term, because sea level
rise will put the present wetlands under water, and the birds will
find themselves competing of space with agriculture and (shanty
town?) housing space for people displaced from present Severnside
towns and settlements.
3. The biggest techncal problem with the Barrage is probably
siltation. This can be mitigated by ensuring that all agriculture
in the Severn watershed is organic, which will itself have many
merits. Settlement ponds can also be created to recapture and
reuse sediment.
4. The consideration that tips me in favour of the Barrage is its
effects in controlling flooding. As soon as it is built, it can
reduce flooding on the lower reaches of the Severn by holding back
high spring tides at times of high rainfall in the Severn
watershed. In the long term, if global warming is not reversed
(and the Barrage is part of the strategy of reversal) the whole of
Severnside will disappear under the sea. This means flooding of
parts of Cardiff, Newport, Avonmouth, Portishead, Weston and even
Gloucester, not to mention smaller settlements and all the rich
agricultural land on the flood plain. This will cause huge
disruption, and require massive new build inland. A subsidiary
barrage or dam can protect the Somerset coast that includes
Hinkley Point; or the minehead Barrage would do the same, while
generating even more power.
5. The lagoon solution preferred by FoE and the Green Party is
untried (although that is not an overwhelming problem), might be
prone to siltation, will require more material (i.e. rock from
Norway) per megawatt, and will not protect Severnside against long
term sea level rise.

That, in a nutshell, is the case I would put. I deeply regret that I was
unable to be at conference and put this forward in the debate. I respect
the Conference decision, the Barrage is indeed a huge undertaking with
many negative impacts, but we have to accept that all forms of power,
from wood fires to PV, have a downside. It is vital that we reduce our
energy consumption, but we do have to generate energy from renewable
sources, and for me, it simply does not seem defensible to oppose
fossil, nuclear, and also now tidal. Our political opponents would not
be slow to use this as a weapon to marginalise us again at a time when
there are signs that we are beginning at last to be taken seriously.
Yes, the Barrage is big, but so also are the effects on the climate that
the fossil fuel have brought about. Big problems sometimes need big
solutions (as well as millions of small solutions).

This is where I stand and I cannot in all honesty say otherwise.

For peace and planet

Richard

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