Lib Dems condemn “betrayal” of Swansea Tidal Lagoon cancellation

It was a project which would power 150,000 households for 120 year, a program of lagoons at Swansea, Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay which would create over 34,000 jobs in Wales alone. And Wales does need jobs. It was championed by the Lib Dems in Government, but, as has happened with so many Lib Dem ideas, it’s been cancelled today by the Tories.

Coming on the same day as the the vote on Heathrow expansion, you would be forgiven that the Tories really didn’t give a hoot about what David Cameron is alleged to have once described as “green crap” – and he was one of the more progressive ones.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have condemned the decision as a huge missed opportunity and another example of the Conservatives’ neglect of Wales.

The lagoon was strongly backed by the government commissioned Hendry review in January 2017 and is supported by businesses, councils, MPs and AMs from all parties. The lagoon would have acted as a pathfinder project for other lagoons across Wales including Newport, Cardiff and Colwyn Bay.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds was furious that the opportunity to make Wales a world leader in green energy had been thrown away:

The Conservatives’ rejection of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a disgrace. The Swansea Tidal Lagoon would be a vital first step in making Wales a world leader in green energy, bringing untold environmental and economic benefits to the community, Wales and the UK.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently supported the Swansea Tidal Lagoon as a key part of our plans to develop an innovative, radical and ambitious green economy in Wales. It is deeply disappointing the Conservatives do not share our ambition.

When Ed Davey was Secretary of State for Climate Change he was totally behind the project. He called the cancellation an “historic mistake.”

As Secretary of State I consistently supported the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, it is deeply disappointing the Conservatives are making a historic mistake by rejecting it now. This is yet more evidence that only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to prioritise the environment and green energy.

It is a myth that the lagoon would be too expensive. Government concerns about the cost ring hollow considering the strike price for the lagoon would be no more than the Government were willing to pay for nuclear power at Hinkley.

Wind power is now the cheapest source of energy available because we invested in it in Coalition. The same will happen with tidal energy if we only invest in it now. A series of tidal lagoons would provide cost-effective, reliable and green energy for generations to come.

Peter Black, who represented the area in the Welsh Assembly and is still a Swansea Councillor said the decision proved that the Conservatives didn’t care about Wales:

The rejection of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a bitter pill to swallow. This is yet another betrayal of the people of Wales and particularly South Wales by the UK government. Whilst they cancel rail electrification to Swansea and reject the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, the Conservatives have no problems finding money for projects in South East England. This lays bare just how little this Conservative UK Government cares about Wales.

Vince took to Twitter to voice his disapproval:

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  • Yeovil Yokel 25th Jun '18 - 10:06pm

    Not far away up the Severn Estuary is the construction site for Hinkley Point ‘C’ nuclear power station – remind me, someone, how much this will cost and for how long.

  • Hinckley Point was an Ed Davey project and is disastrously expensive.

    The Welsh Lib Dem response would be more convincing if it dealt with the financial costs of the lagoon – which all independent commentators state to be far more expensive than offshore wind or other alternatives (including the disastrous Hinckley Point) .

    I do wish the party would show a bit more basic competence on these matters. Where is the oft stated need for evidence based policy?

  • Once again this decision highlights the need for a more powerful government in Caerdydd. For years the economy of Cymru has been allowed to stagnate. Unemployment and under investment coupled with poor long term strategic planning leaves the economic future of Cymru in doubt. What is needed is bold and enlightened thinking which puts Cymru first. For years the mineral wealth of Cymru was exploited.Isn’t it time for the UK government to give something back!

  • John Marriott 26th Jun '18 - 9:03am

    I absolutely agree! Tidal power has GOT to be an important part of the mix. Let’s hope another way can be found to get this important project back on board.

    By the way, in response to Peter Black, I gather that there could be an alternative to mass rail electrification. I believe that we may be getting hydrogen powered trains on certain non electric lines soon, although, considering what happened to the Hindenburg, the idea, as muted, of storing large amounts of gas on train roofs might be a bit dodgy. Hopefully, the gas would be in liquid form. But, what do I know?

    PS I just thought. I might just have started another LDV tangential argument with my last observation.

  • Laurence Cox 26th Jun '18 - 11:47am

    One issue with Tidal Lagoon Power’s proposals is that their proposed sites for tidal lagoons on the Severn Estuary and from North Wales to the Solway Firth have high tide times that are either very close to each other or about six hours apart. In the latter case this means that while one area is generating power on the flood tide the other is generating power on the ebb tide and there are two slack water periods each day when neither area is generating. So the Swansea lagoon should only be seen as a technology demonstrator; to get continuous electricity generation from this approach you either need a two-basin approach (as described by David MacKay in SEWTHA or use energy storage (like pumped hydro).

  • John Probert 26th Jun '18 - 11:58am

    A tidal hydro-electricity barrage across the Bristol Channel was proposed in the late 1940’s. Meanwhile the Rance Tidal Power Station (on the estuary of the Rance River in Brittany) opened in 1966.
    Isn’t this the sort of project which qualifies for EU funding?
    How much longer must we live in hope?

  • John Marriott 26th Jun '18 - 2:16pm

    @John Probert
    Precisely! Lincolnshire, where I live (75% Leave and still proud of it) could have qualified for a shedload of EU funds if the Tory led County Council had bothered to apply over the years. I bet that’s typical of many areas. It’s a bit late now.

  • My understanding is that Welsh Tories backed it and this really is an issue of Westminster Tories not wanting to back a plan that will support the Welsh economy. Several points have been made since that strike a chord and whether you are turned by the fact that this being described as not value for money when it’s much better value than Hinkley point C, or whether you are swayed by the point that it comes shortly after electrification of rail line is deemed “not value for money in Wales” and yet any amount of spend on rail in England makes sense, or if you feel that all this planning and preparation done to tap into tidal power is going to boost the economy of another country or, perhaps, another past of the UK then surely you can see that this is a bad move for Wales.

    As a separate issue, which may be more controversial, it’s why I feel that the Union doesn’t work for Wales or NI or Scotland. There is too strong an English voice in the UK government and if places like Wales remain poorer parts of the world where you can dump nuclear mud and send your elderly for free prescriptions then that doesn’t negatively impact England and so be it. If it means we have an English parliament and then a separate UK government with the upper house equally split between four nations then great, but we cannot continue to allow Wales to be neglected or for the only investment be on the condition that Wales works with Bristol. When you read this please don’t forget that Gordon Brown’s speech to save the Union at time of Scottish independence made no reference to Wales or NI and was only about Scotland and their relationship with England/Westminster.

  • As David Raw says, the Swansea scheme would have been disastrously expensive so I for one am delighted it’s been cancelled.

    I’ve long been of the view that, in the long run, the transition to non-fossil fuelled electricity would lead to LOWER energy prices and that seems to be coming true. Recent bids for utility scale solar in Saudi Arabia have come in at under $20/MWh. That probably includes an undisclosed but modest subsidy, but prices are still falling year by year so that will soon be the ‘free market’ price for intermittent power in sunny countries.

    That gives us in the UK a big energy problem as we can never compete with the tropics in solar. Potential alternatives exist but are still in the laboratory and aren’t yet deployable.

    What it does mean is that it’s rash in the extreme to make multi-decade commitments to electricity that’s roughly twice the current wholesale price and many times what will increasingly become the norm for new capacity (this applies equally to Hinckley Point). That extra cost will come out of the pockets of the next generation(s) and/or reduce the services the country can afford. (Incidentally, IIRC the £92.70 strike price for Hinckley Point was in 2012 but subject to indexation so it must be nearer to £100 by now!)

    The backers of this terrible scheme also miss that it’s the first rule of investment that capital schemes should give a positive return on investment – that is that they earn more than the cost of the capital (in simple terms, the interest rate). Anything else amounts to turning a large fortune into a small fortune. That’s not a party-political point and has nothing to do with Westminster vs. Cardiff.

  • The solution must be to cancel Hinckley point C and build lagoons. Surely the price will come down as more are built. Also, we can export the expertise. It’s just not Conservative culture to build these and figures will not alter that. We could cancel Heathrow expansion also if it’s the funding. It’s interesting that these three infrastructure projects have been decided as a group.

  • nigel hunter 28th Jun '18 - 11:47am

    Swansea lagoon cancelled (I presume others will also) to develop the great God Nuclear worshipped by Tory ideology.As the years go by the cost of renewables will drop. This investment in North Wales nuclear is a sop to alleviate the decision The Tories are acting true to type, fossil fuels etc love ,renewables crap. How many Tory millionaires have funds in renewables?

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