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Snapshot of the Severn

21 February 2012

The impact of climate change could cause sea levels to rise by 30-40cm in the next 60 years, according to a new report.

Researchers estimate that in the next 100 years, this rise in sea level could cause up to 11% of the intertidal area within the Severn Estuary to be lost.

The State of the Severn Estuary report, produced by the Severn Estuary Partnership and Cardiff University in collaboration with the Environment Agency (Wales), provides a comprehensive overview of the Estuary - from wildlife to wave formations, energy generation and climate change. With support from the Interreg IVb Innovative Management for Europe’s Changing Coastal Resources (IMCORE) project, the report has been developed to incorporate contributions from the University’s lecturers, local industries, stakeholders and Estuary residents.

It is the first in a series that reports on the state of and changes in the natural and human environment of the Severn Estuary, establishing baseline data in the context of climate and other coastal change. It provides a non-technical overview of the Estuary environment, focusing on its use and resources.

The Estuary and its hinterland support many activities, ranging from tourism and recreation – which saw a total spend of £3,108.29 million in 2008 alone – to dredging, energy generation and transport, with the airports at Cardiff and Bristol serving a combined total of 7,152,217 passengers in 2010. However, these uses can cause pressures on the fragile natural environment – therefore making the sustainable management of the area and its resources essential.

Wildlife expert Miranda Krestovnikoff, a presenter from the BBC’s Coast series, wrote the foreword for the report and launched the summary document at the 2011 annual Severn Estuary Forum.

"This Estuary is my home," she said.

"I’ve lived here for the last 20 years and its future is incredibly important to me. I have seen how the health of the environment underpins the socio-economics of the Estuary and appreciate the paramount importance of managing this resource in an integrated and sustainable way."

The report also tells how, while not attributed directly to climate change, the cliff failure at Porthkerry Leisure Park, near Barry, in October last year illustrated the potential of natural coastal processes to cause significant damage to important tourist infrastructure.

Paul Parker, Severn Estuary Partnership Officer, said: "We believe this report, the first to address such a broad range of estuary-wide features, will inform and raise the interest of all those around the Severn, from residents to industry professionals alike.

"The SEP aims to aid in the sustainable management of the Severn Estuary through a partnership approach and we believe the further development of robust indicators – in conjunction with annual updates of this report – will help to achieve a sustainable future for this unique Estuary."

Future editions of the report will focus on the identification and analysis of a robust set of sustainability indicators, which can not only be used to determine the health of the Estuary environment and its resources, but will also aid in the development of effective management measures.

A PDF version of the report is available to download through the Severn Estuary Partnership’s website,

The Partnership welcomes discussion on the State of the Severn Estuary report and any other Estuary projects and matters. For more information on these aspects, please contact a member of the Severn Estuary Partnership on 029 2087 4713 or email

Notes to editors

The Severn Estuary Partnership

The Severn Estuary Partnership / Partneriaeth Môr Hafren was set up in 1995. It is an independent, estuary-wide initiative led by Local Authorities and Statutory Agencies, involving all those interested in the Severn Estuary.

The strategy for the Severn Estuary was launched in 2001 after several years of work developing consensus and agreement. Many people continue to come together to look at issues and opportunities relating to management and use of the Severn.

Visit the Severn Estuary Partnership website at:

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.
Visit the University website at:

For further information, please contact:

Beth Taylor

The Severn Estuary Partnership

c/o School of Earth and Ocean Sciences

Cardiff University

Telephone: 029 0287 4713


For images to accompany this release, please contact:

Sarah Bunney

Public Relations office

Cardiff University

Telephone: 029 2087 0293