Backing for £7 billion tidal lagoon scheme off the north Wales coast
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A seven-billion-pound tidal lagoon scheme could be developed off the coast of Conwy and Denbighshire by a private company.
At a Denbighshire County Council meeting, councillors unanimously supported the motion to back the scheme in principle, which was put forward by Cllr Brian Jones on behalf of the Conservative Party.
A group of Denbighshire councillors will now help progress the scheme and lobby both the UK and Welsh governments on behalf of an unspecified private-sector company.
The multi-billion-pound scheme could involve a 19-mile ‘barrage’ with underwater turbines able to change the tide.
Cllr Brian Jones explained the Welsh Government had challenged the private sector to come up with proposals.
Cllr Jones was excited about the prospect of the tidal lagoon: “If this is passed through, it will put us on the starting blocks. I believe it enhances in a small way our climate change strategy, in that we are also looking outside the box,” he said.
“If this got off the ground, and this is not what this motion is about, it would be dealt with at a higher level. You are talking vast sums of money. The carrot dangler for Denbighshire and Conwy is the community development if it did happen as a project.”
He added: “I’ve seen the business case that would have to come from the private sector: 5,000 construction jobs, benefits to the tourist industry when it’s completed. Whether it happens in our lifetime, who knows?
“But at the end of the day, the Welsh Government are on the hook with it, so what I want is Denbighshire to put a marker in the sand that we are forward-thinking, and we want to be on the starting block and involved in the discussion if they progress.”
Leader Cllr Huw Evans also supported the scheme:“It is safe to say that most of us as members would support a project that would generate clean energy from natural resources,” he said.
“This motion is a proposal I could and would support in principle, but it has to be noted this is a large and complex project, and we are still not clear what the pros and cons are for us here in Denbighshire.
“I do believe that the project involves a 19-mile barrage, some way out in the sea, containing underwater turbines that spin and generate energy as the tide comes in and out. There will be a facility to control the tides.
“I have seen indicative costs of around £7 billion, and given the national significance of such a scheme, this council will not be the decision-maker. That will stand with the national government. That said, we do have a key and an important role in how this project will progress.”
He added: “When this motion was put forward, I did contact the leader of Conwy to understand where Conwy fitted in, and he advised me there is already a group in Conwy (of councillors looking at the scheme), and there is also strong support. So it is important this is seen as a North Wales lagoon, not a Conwy lagoon, and therefore Denbighshire has to play its part helping to progress this forward for the obvious benefits that there will beyond to the remit of this council.”
Cllr Paul Penlington said he was concerned about the council lobbying governments on behalf of the private sector and asked for the motion to be less prescriptive.
But Cllr Penlington was told by officers that the council would be lobbying on behalf of the overall project.
Cllr Peter Scott seconded the motion, and it was agreed.
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