The Anonymous Widower

The Severn Barrage

It is being reported that the government is abandoning the building of the electricity-generating barrage of the River Severn between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare.

Years ago, I did a job for Frederick Snow and Partners and at the time, they were proposing a bold barrage of the river to generate up to 10% if the UK’s energy needs. When the barrage was being discussed a couple of years ago, I had a letter published in The Times about the scheme.

Sir, The proposal shown in your paper today is timid. We have an energy crisis, an energy storage crisis, a landfill crisis and an airport crisis in this country and I believe that if we use the resource of the River Severn properly, we can help to solve all of them. A proper solution would also mitigate the problems of flooding in the Severn Valley.

I have knowledge of the proposals put forward by Frederick Snow in the 1960s. He felt that a central spine with a high and a low lake would be the best solution. Turbines would run between the lakes and could provide power when required, but they would also be capable of pumping water back to store energy. In these days of wind turbines relying on winds that don’t always blow, this would be a sensible way of storing the energy from wind power and releasing it as required.

Snow proposed putting energy-based industries such as chlorine and hydrogen production on the spine — but his major proposal was to site a very large airport on it. Could it with proper engineering be built on landfill? After all, it does face in the direction of the prevailing winds and it would be several kilometres from any centre of population, so noise pollution would be reduced to a minimum. As Brunel designed the Great Western to be virtually straight for high-speed running, trains à la TGV could do the journey to London in well under an hour. We either dither or we formulate a bold vision of which Brunel would have been proud.

I suspect that by cancelling we may only be delaying a scheme that will eventually go ahead.  As time passes Snow’s scheme for a central spine and airport will become more not less economical.

  1. The need to store energy from wind turbines and nuclear power stations will become more important.
  2. The high-speed railway to Bristol and Wales will have been electrified.  Also, a properly designed barrage will give another rail route to Wales from London.
  3. A higher percentage of the flights out of the UK, will go to the west. as those to the east will be more likely to be replaced by trains through the Channel Tunnel.  This will mean that an airport in the Bristol Channel will cut carbon emissions by a few percent, due to the shorter journey to the American continent.

October 17, 2010 - Posted by | News, World | , ,


  1. […] build nuclear power stations for our long term needs. I am also a strong proponent of building a large tidal power station on the Severn, with an international airport on […]

    Pingback by Should We Ditch Huhne’s Wind Power Policy? « The Anonymous Widower | February 6, 2012 | Reply

  2. […] 2008 on the subject, under the headline,  The Severn Barrage Needs Bolder Plans. It is reproduced here with some […]

    Pingback by Peter Hain Resigns to Back Severn Barrage « The Anonymous Widower | May 14, 2012 | Reply

  3. […] My original letter is here. […]

    Pingback by Another Letter in The Times « The Anonymous Widower | May 23, 2012 | Reply

  4. […] should have barraged the Severn, which done properly would create ten percent of our […]

    Pingback by Sleepwalking Our Way To An Energy Crisis « The Anonymous Widower | February 19, 2013 | Reply

  5. […] when we could do sensible things like insulate houses and other buildings, properly barrage the Severn Estuary, build several nuclear power plants and even use fracking in the short term, until nuclear comes on […]

    Pingback by Carbon Capture And Storage « The Anonymous Widower | May 30, 2013 | Reply

  6. […] I like it, as it doesn’t have the problems of one of my favourite energy developments; the Severn Barrage. […]

    Pingback by Will We Get A Tidal Power Station At Swansea? « The Anonymous Widower | December 24, 2013 | Reply

  7. […] just wonder what Sellafield would be like today, if the River Severn had been barraged around fifty years ago, as was proposed by Sir Frederick […]

    Pingback by From Ravenglass To Sellafield « The Anonymous Widower | May 5, 2015 | Reply

  8. […] Partners, who were promoting a barrage of the River |Severn. I wrote about my experiences in The Severn Barrage and I still believe , that this should be done, especially as if done properly, it would also do a […]

    Pingback by We Need More Electricity « The Anonymous Widower | July 23, 2017 | Reply

  9. […] The Severn Barrage, I wrote about Frederick Snow’s plan for a tidal power station and airport in the Severn […]

    Pingback by M4 Relief Road: Five Things The Planning Inspector Said « The Anonymous Widower | June 6, 2019 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: