ccording to UK newspaper The Guardian, a report due to be released later this month will say that the government has decided not to back the £15-20 billion tidal energy project, which would represent the UK’s biggest single source of green energy, generating five per cent of the country’s electricity. The newspaper claimed that ministers are planning instead to recommend further feasibility studies around four much smaller tidal projects soxting around £3 bn.

Severn tidal energy proposal is a 10 mile long barrage between two town on opposite sides of the Bristol Channel, Weston Super-Mare and Cardiff. The project has raised a great deal of opposition from environmental and wildlife campaigners because of its probable effect on the biodiversity of the Severn Estuary and the possibliity that it will cause flodign in the region. It has also been opposed by environmental campaign group the RSPB, which believes it could destroy huge areas of the estuary marsh and mudflats used by birds. However, it had won the support of the country’s main business representiative the CBI which last year recommended it be part of a number of strategies to meet UK climate change targets and energy needs.

The government’s decision not to invest any public money in the Severn Barrage is likely to have the effect of deterring private companies from backing the project because of the cost and uncertainty of getting it through planning. A spokesman for the Severn Tidal Power Group, a consortium of Balfour Beatty, Taylor Woodrow, Sir Robert McAlpine and Alstom, said that it was unlikely that developers would foot the estimated £250 million cost of getting the project to the planning stage because of the risk of refusal.