tidal lagoon concept

Government ‘will not be rushed’ to approve £1.3bn renewable energy project

The government has said it will not be rushed to approve plans to construct the first tidal lagoon energy facility off the coast of Swansea.

The £1.3bn project from the aptly named firm Tidal Lagoon Power uses the power of tides to generate electricity and is thought to be less expensive than both offshore wind and nuclear power over the first 60 years of their 120-year life, according to a review of the technology last year. 

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy minister Lord Henley said any decision would have to represent value for money for taxpayers and consumers.

But he faced cross-party pressure at Lords question time to get on with the energy project in Swansea Bay.

The project has been on the cards since it was included in the 2014 National Infrastructure Plan and a government-commissioned review in January 2017 gave backing to the technology’s viability and the concept of tidal generation albeit not specifically to the Swansea proposal.

But despite the report, the Department of Energy & Climate Change still failed to give it the final go-ahead and was accused of “dragging its heels” over the project. 

Tory Baroness Finn said no other country was better placed to be a hub for the development of tidal power technology.

She said it was now time to “cut through the procrastinating and get on with it”.

Lord Henley said there were a number of issues to be considered including costs and the environment. An announcement would be made “when it is appropriate”.

Labour’s Lord Anderson of Swansea said a review of the project was completed well over a year ago and was positive. “What further evidence does the government need,” he demanded.

Lord Henley said it was not a matter of requiring further evidence but considering the evidence already before ministers, relating to costs and environmental considerations. “Obviously it would be very expensive,” he told peers.

Plaid Cymru’s Lord Wigley asked: “What on earth is taking so long about this decision. Isn’t it an appalling example for business and everybody else that the government is so slow about this matter.

“Yes, the costs have to be taken into consideration, but it’s a matter of taking a decision on the basis of the information. Surely we should be getting on with it,” he said.

To laughter and jeers, Lord Henley replied: “The government will not be rushed.”

Tidal Lagoon Power announced it had secured connection to the grid for the 3,240MW capacity project back in September. 

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