Conwy could become a ‘world leader’ in tidal energy, council boss claims
Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
A council boss claims his authority could be a “world leader” in wave energy after backing a motion to support a large scale tidal lagoon.
Cllr Charlie McCoubrey, leader of Conwy county council, made the remark at last week’s full council meeting.
Members backed a motion brought by veteran councillor and former leader Ronnie Hughes to “support in principle the development of a large scale tidal project off the coast of Conwy county”.
It also called for the cabinet and elected members to lobby Welsh and UK governments to advance the idea, as well as set up a council working group on the subject.
Cllr McCoubrey said: “I’m very happy to take member suggestions and those from senior officers on how to push this forward.
“I think it will make a massive difference and I think we can be world leaders if we push this forward for our residents.”
It’s not the first time council members have voiced their approval for a tidal lagoon scheme, which would not only provide clean energy but could have potential benefits in controlling rising seas.
Former leader Cllr Sam Rowlands was a staunch advocate of the tidal lagoon idea and cabinet member for housing Cllr Goronwy Edwards, formerly in charge of economic development has also championed the move.
However this is the first time the authority has made any official declaration of intent towards pushing the idea of a tidal lagoon forwards.
Cllr Edwards had previously declared he would prefer a tidal lagoon to seeing more wind turbines out to sea, after meeting with RWE Renewables who are proposing to more than double the number off the Conwy coast.
Cllr Hughes, who tabled the motion, said it was important it was considered after reports in the media highlighted where Conwy would be in 50 years time if seas rose unchecked and nothing was done to mitigate it.
He said: “Some of the details coming out last week were frightening. There will be a lot of areas of Conwy disappearing if we don’t do something.
“I understand money (on sea defences) is going to be spent on Colwyn Bay and Llandudno but that’s a sticking plaster compared to what we are going to go through.”
Cllr Greg Robbins seconded the motion and said it was important feasibility studies and environmental impact reports were done as soon as possible.
He added: “It’s going to take a very long time so let’s give it as big a push as possible.”
Dr Stuart Anderson was instrumental in forming a plan to build a tidal lagoon, as part of North Wales Tidal Energy and Coastal Protection Co Ltd, but he resigned from the board in November 2016.
Former leader Cllr Rowlands and Henry Dixon, chairman of North Wales Tidal Energy and Coastal Protection, presented proposals for a North Wales tidal lagoon at at local area meeting of councillors in February.
The plans would not only generate power for up to 1.1m homes but claim they could solve some of the North Wales coastal strip’s issues with rising sea levels.
It is thought advancing feasibility and environmental impact studies could cost at least £1m.