Swansea Labour leader Rob Stewart insists there are UK Government funds available for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and itis time Wales got a fair share of the cake.
Cllr Stewart’s comments come after the Welsh Government offer from First Minister Carwyn Jones of £200m to help get the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon built.
But there are increasing suggestions thatthe Conservative Government is to shelve their plans for the £1.3bn Tidal Lagoon, while at the same time giving backing to a two nuclear energy projects at Hinckley Point and Wylfa Newydd.
“The annual UK budget for renewable energy is £7.6bn, of which £557m has so far gone unspent and unallocated in the current budget. Funds like this are to support immature technologies like tidal,” said Cllr Stewart, leader of Swansea Council.
“Everyone knows that tidal is cheap for the tax payer compared to nuclear. For instance,you are talking something like 30p on bills for tidal, whereas it is as much as £11 on bills for a nuclear project like Hinkley.
“It’s quite simple. If it was the right deal for Hinkley, it’s the right deal for the lagoon. If it’s good enough for nuclear in England, surely it’s got to be good enough for tidal in Wales. Hinkley has a limited life span and the lagoon would provide clean, cheap, renewable energy for the next 120 years.”
Added Cllr Stewart: “If the UK Government won’t back it,we will now focus on how this can be delivered without UK Government involvement.
“And the Welsh Government’s support is absolutely crucial in our plans to deliver the tidal lagoon. We will evaluate how a revised funding model can deliver this project and allow all for Welsh Lagoons to proceed.
“Sustainable Renewable Welsh energy for future generation is too big a prize to give up, just because people who do not live here, do not have the ambition or will to make this happen.
“We have commissioned an independent analysis to look at how this can be delivered differently,and in the coming weeks we will say more on what we will do to try and deliver this world first project.”
The tidal lagoon was originally backed in January 2017 by a UK government-commissioned report published by former energy minister Charles Hendry
In that report Hendry concluded: “‘tidal lagoons would help deliver security of supply; they would assist in delivering our decarbonisation commitments; and they would bring real and substantial opportunities for the UK supply chain.”
But since then UK ministers have backed away from the project due to concerns it was not affordable.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon to be offered the same guaranteed price for energy that the UK government agreed for the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset.
“If it’s right for Hinkley, it’s right for Swansea,” he told the Senedd.
Welsh council chiefs have criticised the UK Government for dragging its feet over any decision to progress plans for the tidal project.
Swansea Counci leader Cllr Debbie Wilcox said: ‘”WLGA and Welsh councils have been strong supporters of the construction of a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay over recent years.
“We have met the developers and supported the work that Swansea council has undertaken with Welsh Government to bring this game-changing project to the city.”