All large infrastructure projects require an assessment of its impact on the environment. The Bridgwater Tidal Barrier is no different and as one of the UK’s first real climate change driven projects it is important that the long term impacts are understood not just the immediate aftermath of the construction process.
Screening and Scoping Opinions (Environmental Impact) Screening is the process of deciding which projects require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). A scoping opinion only considers what information should be included in an EIA.
What we know
- Infrastructure projects whether the BTB, the expansion of London’s railways in the 1800s or the construction of the UK’s motorways in the 70’s have well established long term impacts on our environment as society adapts to the change the project imposes on the area. In Bridgwater’s case the planned BTB removes 3 to 400Ha of potentially development land close to Bridgwater and its existing communication links (J23 of the M5). With the topographical constraints imposed by the M5, the railway and the River Parrett the other options for future development are few.
- Bridgwater will in the 100 years of the BTB operation continue to expand and grow and a conservative assessment of the additional area of Bridgwater developed for housing and employment will be around 40% of Bridgwater’s current footprint. Bridgwater’s expansion has to go somewhere and it will impact on the environment beyond the immediate area of construction.
- The water that will flood onto the the farmland with increasing frequency will be saline and will change the nature of the land destroying valuable freshwater habitat at Chilton Trinity and at Pawlett Ham’s and the ability to grow food.
- A warming climate will see the arrival of new species in particular the Asian Tiger Mosquito to existing open water and bringing the inter tidal habitat up to Dunball as proposed by the Parrett Estuary Flood Management Strategy to the edge of Bridgwater’s habitable area threatening the health of people in North Bridgwater, Pawlett, Chilton Trinity and Puriton and the housing developments on King Drive. It is not unreasonable to consider that open water may well be considered in the same way as in other warm climates as being breeding grounds for mosquitoes and a source of the Zika virus and Denge Fever.
What the EIA opinion ignored.
- The impact of pushing the economic development onto the Quantock Hills
- The impact of building on the levels to the east of Bridgwater
- The impact of seawater on the land.
- Increasing the rate of salt ingress into the land due to retention of saline water in the borrow pits.
- potential habitat creation for invasive species and the health threat they make to the local population.
The work done in in this document seems to irrationally imagine that
- Bridgwater does not expand for the next 100 Years
- Environmental changes will only be driven by sea level rise
- The environmental impact is only in the immediate area of the scheme