Backers claim £7 billion tidal lagoon will boost tourism and economy
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Plans for a £7 billion tidal lagoon could transform the economic landscape in the north of Wales and boost tourism without endangering wildlife, a councillor believes.
Last week Denbighshire Council voted in favour of a motion to back proposals for a green energy tidal lagoon off the coast of Conwy and Denbighshire.
The motion was put forward by Cllr Brian Jones on behalf of the Conservative Party, following the Welsh Government’s call for private-sector involvement – although the companies involved are still unknown.
The scheme could involve a 19-mile barrage with underwater turbines able to change the tide, creating around 5,000 construction jobs.
Both Denbighshire and Conwy councils are now in the process of forming task and finish groups to investigate and lobby the UK and Welsh Government for funding.
Although plans are still in the early stages, Cllr Brian Jones, Denbighshire’s cabinet member for waste, transport and the environment, has revealed the idea had generated excitement within the council chamber.
Cllr Jones said multi-million-pound schemes often released community pots of funding as part of the deal.
“It’s an exciting thing for Denbighshire in my view. The fact that it got voted through unanimously would indicate that there was a little bit of excitement from the other members across the political spectrum,” he said.
“The big pluses for Denbighshire are if a big project of that size went ahead, there would be a big financial gain by way of community sums (of money). You are talking considerable amounts of money, not only for Denbighshire but also for Conwy because Conwy would be a partner if a north Wales tidal lagoon was constructed.
“There would be construction job benefits and then the long-term tourism benefit. What they would possibly do is they would have a tourist information centre, probably one based in Conwy, one in Denbighshire, and actually you would potentially have some access to the wall that would be two miles off the coast on the horizon. People would be interested to look at something like that.”
Cllr Jones explained the turbines could slightly alter the times of the tide.
“I’m quoting the experts from that industry. If we were sitting on the beach in Rhyl, the only difference we would see is that the tide would possibly come in 30 minutes later than the shipping or tidal forecast,” he said.
“The window to generate the electric would be with the tidal flow, so you would hold the water back, then let the water through the lagoon, and that’s where you would generate the electric, so it would revolve around the tidal flows.”
Cllr Jones also revealed he had been assured the turbines would be environmentally friendly in terms of their impact on marine life but added the economic impact on the area could be massive.
He said: “The environmental aspect is absolutely key to it all, and the information I was given is that in the world we live in today, you wouldn’t even be able to look at it without having that covered. So there is confidence there you wouldn’t be causing any negative impact, in particular to sea life.”
He added: “Obviously when you start talking about 5,000 construction jobs, it’s going to be positive for the economic scene. Obviously, there would be long-term job opportunities, too.
“It would transform the economic scene in Denbighshire, and on the coast, the opportunities would be massive.”
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