Severn barrage could 'end fuel poverty' says founder of green energy provider Ecotricity

16 December 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Founder of green energy company Ecotricity, Dale Vince, is urging ministers to use taxpayer's money and back a proposed barrage across the Severn River because it could "end fuel poverty" in the UK.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, green energy advocate Mr Vince said that the electricity generated by the 10-mile barrage could "be harnessed as a social enterprise for Britain to create 40,000 jobs; contribute 10% of the UK's 40% renewables and CO2 targets, eradicate (rather than mitigate) fuel poverty permanently and generate £3billion a year for sustainable infrastructure."

'Eco visionary' Vince pressed Gordon Brown to accelerate approval of the barrage which has become a matter of some contention, attracting opposition from wildlife campaigners who believe that such a structure will be detrimental to the wildlife which inhabits the area.

The nearly £4billion a year provided by the Government (£3billion) and electricity industry (£0.7billion) is money down the drain, being spent "fighting a losing battle" because "energy costs will keep rising faster than standards of living." Mr Vince said, according to a statement from Ecotricity.

Fuel bills will continue to rise and the number of homes qualifying for Government support will increase, pushing up the bill to tackle fuel poverty, which is defined by a household spending 10 per cent or more of its income on energy. So this money will be wasted, only allowing the number of those facing fuel poverty to "stand still" rather than helping to reduce the problem, said Mr Vince.

He believes that the Government should take full advantage of the prospect of a Severn Barrage because it could then "stop paying huge sums to the big six each year (in cash grants); insulate itself, us and the fuel poor from future fuel price rises; take a massive step towards our national CO2 targets; end fuel poverty completely and permanently; and generate a net profit for other infrastructure and sustainable development."

Mr Vince's plan would involve diverting the £3billion of taxpayers' money, plus the £0.7billion from electricity providers (the cost of which is passed onto the consumer), to construct the Severn Barrage which he believes would make a much more sound investment.

"The only losers" he added, "would be the Big 6 energy companies who will no longer benefit from the government’s current Fuel Poverty cash grant system".

Ecotricity offsets its customers' CO2 emissions by spending 100 per cent of its customers' bills on developing alternative, sustainable resources such as wind energy, compared to less than one per cent spent by the big six companies and nothing at all spent by other supposedly green electricity suppliers.

In 2007, Ecotricity spent £555.36 per customer on alternative energy, compared to £17.28 spent by Powergen, £7.12 spent by Centrica, owner of British Gas, £3.89 spent by npower and £3.55 by EDF energy.

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