Our public meeting last Thursday ,on a very cold night, was very well received by around 40 members and the presentations by Officers of the Somerset Wildlife Trust were excellent.
Lisa Schneidau talked first about the Severn Estuary and gave a very clear account of the several options being considered by the UK Government. She explained that Somerset was working with the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts ( RSWT) as well as with other county trusts and groups such as RSPB.The Trusts position is in essence:
- to oppose 100% the large Cardiff- Weston barrage because it would cause unacceptable damage to the Estuary, and it should be dropped from the list of options.
- The several alternative schemes should be given more support for development work.
- All development work should be carried out in a transparent manner. The EU Habitats and Birds Directive must be observed.
Both speakers were very clear in keeping to the position taken by the Trust. SWT had to be focused on the effect of the proposals on wildlife and could not, for instance, discuss views about the nature of nuclear power, nor was it possible to simply say that no attempt to recover energy from the tidal flows should be made.
Michelle Osbourne, followed by describing her work to influence EDF in their consultation phase. This was not easy and it had proved difficult to deal with a company who had often worked in a very different situation in France and under different planning rules. By using projections of the planned site layout she highlighted areas where allowances for wildlife could be made given a willingness to discuss and agree modifications. The enormous scale of the work proposed and its impact on an area much larger than the basic footprint for the power plant was well made. The likely effect on the estuary due to the much increased cooling water supply required by the power station was shown and described. Despite the fact that this project was being developed under the UK Government's new planning rules it is to be hoped that public opinion will continue to be important and SWT hopes to continue the debate.EDF have a web site with descriptions of the project. Click here.
For both these two projects SWT hopes that all members will give their support in the ongoing discussions and negotiations for the future of wildlife in a large part of North Somerset.
There was a very good discussion after the talks with questions and answers form the speakers.
Without any hesitation I would recommend all Members of the Trust and anyone else concerned about wildlife in Somerset, to give their full support to Somerset Wildlife Trust where Lisa and Michelle are giving a very balanced and professional approach to these complicated challenges.