According to the latest Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study harnessing the power of the river will aim to provide up to 5% of the UK’s energy needs and will help us meet renewable energy and greenhouse gas targets set at The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. According to various studies and environmental organisations if the Severn’s tide is barraged the river will silt up and its current environments and the food chains that rely on them will either be destroyed or changed dramatically. The knock on effects of that to life, including human life could be disastrous and will be unpredictable.
I often have a lack of faith in the Government’s ability to act on issues that I feel strongly about and I think that it’s easy to blame them instead of looking at my own individual and community responsibilities.
So far I have been thinking about both what I would be prepared to change in my lifestyle, and how to reengage with the river. Previously I have used the river as a place of reflection, perspective, exercise and wonder.
I decided to cut down the amount of tea I drink in order to save energy and to try and understand the large numbers involved in the debate. The UK currently uses about 380tW/hours of energy. What does that mean? Well from my calculations (based on the statistics that 60225000000 cups of tea are drunk each year in the UK and that it took me 0.02kW/hours of energy to boil enough water for a cup of tea) tea consumption alone accounts for 1/3 of a percent of the UK’s total energy use. Unfortunately that’s not enough to trade us all giving up tea in exchange for leaving the river un-barraged, that would need an energy saving of about 20 times that. I am presuming that people are prepared to alter their lifestlyes and wonder what habits people would be willing to change?
The river Severn also provides the surrounding area with fertile land I am thinking that this may be the energy we should be harnessing. So I have made some slow gin from berries that I collected around day one of the count down from the banks of the river at Frampton. I have also just put the air lock on a barrel of cider made from apples collected from the banks of the river at Arlingham. I have also studied and collected driftwood. I have documented some of this and may show some images here at some point in the future.
According to the Severn Estuary Partnership “Few people interested in the Severn estuary and the surrounding area can be unaware of the debate about harnessing the power of the tides.” From my experience of working in the River’s local communities, talking to people on walks and on fruit picking excursions this is untrue.
This is where I am at at the moment.