The first tidal power conference involving more than 20 local authorities and organisations around the Bristol Channel coast will be hosted by West Somerset Council on April 16.
West Somerset is already at the forefront of 21st century power production as it is the host authority for the proposed new nuclear plant, Hinkley Point C.
The invitation-only conference comes at a time when a tidal power lagoon is being considered in Swansea Bay to exploit the natural power potential of the Bristol Channel which has the second highest tidal range in the world.
Cllr Tim Taylor, Leader of West Somerset Council, said: “It’s clear that we need to consider renewable methods of energy production to counteract the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which has a major impact on global warming.
“Tidal power is one of these renewable energy sources and the Bristol Channel, with its high tidal range and fast tidal flow, will provide prime sites for such tidal energy production.
“Therefore it’s right and proper that local authorities and other agencies, who could potentially be involved, come together to discuss the benefits and potential dangers of exploiting the huge energy potential of the Bristol Channel.
“Following discussions, and to demonstrate our level of interest in this, we have volunteered to host the conference,” said Council Leader, Cllr Tim Taylor.
Among those invited are local authorities in South Wales – including Swansea, Cardiff, Newport, Neath and Port Talbot – coastal district councils in Somerset, Devon, Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils, Exmoor National Park Authority and Minehead Town Council.
Representatives from Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Power, Long Bay Sea Power, Regen SW, and engineering and construction experts Arup and Parsons Brinckerhoff are also due to attend.
The programme for the day will look at a range of issues from including sea bed leases, presented by Crown Estates, the Bristol Channel Tidal Scoping Study and the environmental perspective presented by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
West Somerset Council will share its practical experience of national energy infrastructure projects – Hinkley Point C – while Bristol City Council will look at emerging opportunities for local authorities.
“I am delighted West Somerset Council is able to host such an important conference,” said Cllr Taylor. “This is an excellent opportunity for authorities along the Bristol Channel to come together, with experts, to look at the potential for tidal power.”
Press Release, April 14, 2014; Image: TLP