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John Harding/British Trust for Ornithology
Case study

Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study

Having some of the highest tidal ranges globally, there is great potential in the UK for generating large amounts of renewable energy through tidal power schemes. Although, the energy supply at such sites is reliable and plentiful, the schemes may have a major impact on biodiversity, particularly birds, benthic invertebrates, sea mammals and fish.

The Severn estuary has some of the highest potential for tidal power and was recently the subject of a Strategic Environment Assessment. Lead Consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, contracted us to undertake the detailed ornithological studies of the area.

This included monitoring, analysis of past data and the modelling of likely impacts using two types of approach, Behaviour-based Individual Models and habitat association modelling. In addition, we led on the wider biodiversity studies bringing together individual studies on fish, benthic invertebrates and saltmarsh plants.

Understanding the changes in the sediment environment was key to understanding the likely impacts on biodiversity and the sediment modelling undertaken fed directly into the bird analysis.

The final reports were compiled by the lead consultant and submitted to DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) and submitted to Government for approval.