Bristol Channel Tidal Conference

Held on Wednesday 16th April 2014 at West Somerset House, Williton.

Introductions & Welcome, Tim Taylor – Leader of West Somerset Council

This is the first conference of its kind to be held in West Somerset and has bought  together big city and small rural authorities as well as environmental experts, commercial companies and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

It is vital that West Somerset Council is involved in the exploration of tidal energy from the start.

The tidal rise and fall in the Bristol Channel is the second highest in the world with a high level of tidal flow. Tidal energy is an underutilised source of renewable energy. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it very clear that we need to reduce energy generation that burns carbon and increase energy production through renewable sources. Therefore capturing tidal energy off the coast of West Somerset would contribute to that aim. One form of capturing such tidal energy is through a form of tidal lagoon. Any form of tidal lagoon will create local jobs and, if constructed in the right way, will significantly increase West Somerset’s profile as a major tourist attraction.

The purpose of this Conference is to raise awareness of tidal technologies amongst the Local Authorities that border the Severn Estuary, and ensure that all the various stake-holders are working together to maximise the potential and understand the impacts from the outset.

Final Attendance Tidal Conference (186kb pdf)

Introduction to the Conference, and Chair  - Johnny Gowdy, Chief Executive Regen SW

The UK is someway short of its target of 2020 targets for the percentage of energy that should be produced from renewable sources, therefore very important to look at a variety of different technologies. Whilst small scale projects add to the mix, and are a growing sector, much larger projects are needed if the UK is going to improve on its current production.

Many of the technologies are still at a very early stage of development, but the marine aspect  is gathering pace, with the creation of the SW Marine Energy Park raising awareness as well  harnessing private / public partnerships , research & development  with Plymouth University, and trialling pilot schemes including the Wave Hub.

The Bristol Channel is potentially an important source for a variety of different approaches as this Conference will discover and discuss further today.

The Balanced Technology Approach  - Johnny Gowdy

Johnny Gowdy – Director of Regen SW, an independent , not for profit, centre of expertise that has been in existence since 2003.

The Balanced Technology Approach research and paper was produced in November 2012 to explore sustainable technology approached for the Bristol Channel. The study sought to address the economic / environmental and energy capability of the Severn Estuary. The study focussed on tidal range and tidal stream innovation, wave and wind. The presentation provides further context and detail.

Presentation - Regen SW (1.6mb pdf)

Bristol Channel Tidal Scoping Study Robin McDowell (Bristol City Council) / Peter Kydd (Parsons Brinkerhoff)

Parsons Brinkerhoff had been commissioned by Bristol City Council to examine the scope for tidal lagoon energy projects within the Bristol Channel. The conclusions reached were:-

There are opportunities for tidal lagoons

  • Best sites in the middle section – between Aberthaw / Minehead and Newport/Bristol
  • Heads>10m, less sediment (in some locations), less impact on sensitive environments
  • Plenty of examples of sites, design configurations and technology
  • Well understood cost base – opportunities to value engineer
  • Mature engineering – refocused on to lagoons rather than barrages
  • Reduced constraints and impacts
  • Opportunity for short term gain – demonstrators at ports (tidal range) and in the channel (tidal stream)
  • Need for governance – optimal arrangement of potential projects

View the presentation for further context and detail. Bristol Channel Tidal Lagoon Potential (618kb pdf)

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Proposals  - Eva Bishop (Tidal Lagoon Power)

The Severn Estuary holds the second highest tidal range in the world and within this Swansea Bay benefits from an average tidal range during spring tides of 8.5m. This tidal range offers significant potential for the extraction of renewable energy through the construction of tidal lagoons and is an exciting opportunity for Wales and the UK.

The proposal for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay offers:

  • The world’s first, man-made, energy-generating lagoon, with a 240MW nominal rated capacity averaging 14 hours of generation every day.
  • Clean, renewable, power for over 120,000 homes (enough to power 70% of Swansea Bay's annual domestic electricity use) for 120 years.
  • An important contribution towards national carbon emission reduction targets – over 216,000 tonnes of CO2 saved each year.
  • An opportunity to develop a tidal range industry for the UK, centred around Wales.
  • Community and tourism opportunities covering education, arts, culture, recreation and sports.

The Tidal Lagoon is classified as a National Strategic Infrastructure Project, and therefore the application for a Development Consent Order must be submitted to and considered by the UK Planning Inspectorate for ultimate approval by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Minehead Tidal Lagoon Proposals , John Clyde-Smith (Long Bay Sea Power)

John Clyde – Smith is CEO of this relatively new Company based locally in Minehead.

LongBay SeaPower proposes to harness the natural resources of the Bristol Channel to generate electricity. In doing this, we will provide clean, renewable energy, combat coastal erosion and future flooding whilst simultaneously regenerating the whole of the West Somerset area.

The West Somerset Lagoon is the construction of a continuous breakwater wall, spanning from Culvercliffe in Minehead to Blue Ben Point at West Quantoxhead. This will form a lagoon covering 50 square kilometres. The installation of turbines in the lagoon wall will allow for the generation of clean renewable energy, powered by the ebb and flow of the tide. This could produce 1080 megawatt hours and leave a far more sustainable legacy over the project’s expected lifespan of 125 years. The Lagoon also aims to provide port facilities to allow for a Ferry Terminal, Marina and docking for other shipping.

Crown Estates – Seabed Leases , Peter Lawrence (Crown Estates)

The Crown Estate is seeking to:

Understand the appetite and interest from developers of tidal range energy projects in the UK which have a reasonable prospect of commencing construction in the near term1; and,

Invite comment on the outline scope for a leasing process that is being considered for English and Welsh territorial waters, excluding the Severn Estuary2.

The Crown Estate in its role as steward of the UK's seabed is keen to understand the extent to which tidal range projects can contribute to this target and complement the UK’s growing portfolio of offshore wind, wave and tidal stream developments. It is aware of interest from the developers of potential tidal range projects and wishes to explore the readiness of the sector in contemplation of a leasing process. Subject to the conclusions from this market engagement exercise, it will consider commencing a formal competitive leasing process during 2014, with a view to awarding seabed rights to successful applicants.

Rights are required from The Crown Estate to install, own and operate renewable energy projects within UK waters and further information on the role of The Crown Estate, in the form of a briefing paper, can be found at;

Joining up the dots with the various stake –holders and arriving at a solution to leasing that is affordable, viable, provide community, environmental  and economic benefits is essential. To that end the Crown Estates welcome a far more joined up multi-stakeholder approach to the development of Tidal Technology projects.

The Environmental Perspective, Mark Robins - RSPB

Nature is an ally in dealing with Climate Change, but also a potential victim. Therefore renewable energy properties are of huge importance.

The Severn Estuary is the most spectacular, incredibly rich environmental system. It requires good ‘big’ energy projects. Good environmentally sound big projects should be encouraged, bad projects, clearly not. A balanced pathway approach is essential, enabling pilot / test sites and a building up of knowledge of the impacts / cumulative impacts.

The RSPB and other NGO’s will challenge every Bristol Channel proposal, to ensure that it is the right project. The environment needs to be at the forefront of project development, not come as an after-thought.

West Somerset Council - Practical experience of national energy infrastructure projects, Andrew Goodchild (Planning and Nuclear Programme Manager)

West Somerset Council has had recent practical experience of dealing with NSIPs, including Hinkley Point C and National Grid.

Many lessons have been learnt from the process, and include making sure that the following stages are effective to ensure positive outcomes for all.

  • Partnership Working
  • The Consultation Process
  • Providing Balance between the positive and negative aspects of the development
  • The Role of the Local Authority

View the presentation for further context and detail. Practical Experience of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (459kb pdf)

Bristol City Council – The emerging opportunities for Local Authorities, Robin McDowell

Bristol City Council have developed a closer working relationship with Cardiff City Council to look at mutually compatible economic regeneration projects and to look at the opportunity and duty to co-operate on the sustainable development and stewardship of Severn Estuary / Bristol Channel energy resources.

There is an appetite to open this further to other local authorities as well as other private and public sector stake-holders.  This includes an emerging proposal for PPP-SPV to develop, deploy and operate one or more tidal lagoons / fence (longer term) and demo tidal range schemes at Bristol and Cardiff Ports. Open to Public (LAs / Govt) and Private sector (developer / investor) Partners willing to commit cash or value in-kind with common goal of the economic, environmental & social well-being of the Severn / Bristol Channel region.

View the presentation for further context and detail. Opportunities for Local Authorities (262kb pdf)

Setting the Policy Agenda / Questions / Next Steps  – Chaired discussion


  • Really important to maximise the economic impacts of these projects, both during construction and afterwards.
  • Ability to build on the Nuclear supply chain to broaden this out to low carbon technologies. Energy Innovation Centre planned at Bridgwater.
  • More influence needs to be bought to bear to Government to acknowledge and support these opportunities, emphasise Somerset flooding issues.
  • Local Authorities have a key role in joining forces to lobby Government.
  • Plymouth University well placed to support emerging projects.
  • Local Authorities and other stakeholders need to help shape and influence project delivery from the outset, not have (possibly inappropriate) developments forced upon them.
  • Vital to work closely with the community from the outset.
  • Should be the opportunity for Community owned Energy projects within the mix.
  • Crown Estates are a vital Stakeholder – a Tidal Leasing  / Tidal Technologies Strategy is required.
  • Local Nature Partnerships should be considered a key stake-holder
  • The Public Sector Interest Groups, Industry led Groups and Environment Groups all need to come together at regular intervals.
  • The development stage is very high risk for the developer (£15M costs) therefore, need Investor confidence that will be instilled by a transparent process (no unforeseen, last minute hurdles) prior to DCO submission.
  • The important next step is for the Local Authorities to meet to explore the appetite for further joined up working.

Corinne Matthews Economic Regeneration & Tourism Manager

Tel 01984 635287 M 07825 154 735