The Prime Minister is to be briefed on plans for a £30bn, 10-mile tidal barrage from Somerset to South Wales which could provide 5 per cent of Britain's total electricity. David Cameron signalled his backing, telling MPs: "A huge amount of renewable energy could be delivered through a barrage of this kind."
Now he is to meet the consortium behind the bid, which insists it could be completed without public funding. Peter Hain, who served in the cabinets of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, quit the Labour front bench to head the campaign to get the barrage built. He has offered to pilot legislation through parliament.
Mr Hain said the engineering and construction consortium Corlan Hafren had approached the project in a "far more credible and serious way than anyone else that has been involved in this area before". He stated: "It doesn't need a penny of taxpayers' money, but it does require government support through the planning process."
In 2010, ministers pulled the plug on government support, arguing public investment would be better targeted at developing technologies. Green groups including the RSPB and Friends of the Earth argued that the 14-metre tide in the Severn Estuary had the potential to generate low-carbon energy, but the benefits were outweighed by the destruction of unique wildlife and bird habitats.