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Severn barrage plan 'to be dropped'

The Government is about to reject a plan for a huge tidal energy construction project in the Severn Estuary, according to The Observer.

Only if private firms pledge an investment will the £20 billion works proceed, the paper reported.

The proposed project around south Wales and Somerset would ultimately supply around 5 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs.

The newspaper said environmentalists will welcome the news but that some will say the Government is self-evidently breaking its promises about recalibrating the UK economy to help tackle climate change.

A report due out by the Government is expected to instead propose that a much smaller version of the scheme is built, although the £3 billion needed for this will not be paid for by the state either.

The Severn Tidal Power Group, which includes construction giants Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, is apparently still interested in the project but a spokesman told The Observer it is unlikely to want to pay the £250 million apparently required to get the project into the planning stage, in case the bid is rejected.