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Cardiff research vessel helps Secretary of State inspect Severn Estuary

23 July 2009

Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has taken an up-close view of the Severn Estuary, courtesy of Cardiff University.

The Secretary of State was on board the University’s research and teaching vessel Guiding Light, which took him on a voyage from Cardiff Bay to view one of the proposed lines for the Severn Barrage. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently consulting on options for a possible tidal power scheme in the Estuary. While in Cardiff for a cabinet meeting, Mr Miliband had requested the chance to go out to see one of the areas under study.

On board with the Secretary of State were a number of Cardiff University academics who are experts in a variety of sustainability issues. Dr Chris Wooldridge, a lecturer and researcher in marine geography, who also skippered the boat, explained the tidal flows in the area to Mr Miliband. His colleagues in the University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Professor Joe Cartwright, an expert on sedimentary basins, and Professor John Parkes, a microbial ecologist, also briefed the minister.

The Secretary of State also met two experts from the University’s School of Engineering. Professor Roger Falconer, who sits on the expert panel for the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study, spoke about his work modelling in detail the impact of proposed tidal power projects in the estuary. Professor Nick Jenkins is director of the School’s Institute of Energy and has just been appointed to lead a UK-wide study on sustainable energy supply.

Also on board was Professor Steve Ormerod of the University’s School of Biosciences, whose research looks at biodiversity and ecosystems. He spoke to Mr Miliband about the ecology of the Severn Estuary.

Professor Terry Rees, Cardiff University Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, said: "The Secretary of State was able to hear from some of our international experts in engineering, biodiversity and marine science, giving him a wide range of insights into the latest thinking in sustainability research. We were also, through our unique learning and research vessel, Guiding Light, able to show the Secretary of State the marine and ecological background to the Government’s eventual decision on a Severn tidal scheme."

The Welsh Assembly Government’s Director of Sustainable Energy and Industry Wales, Dr Ron Loveland, also joined the voyage.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

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Stephen Rouse,

Public Relations Office,

Cardiff University.

029 2087 5596