News

Major blow for firm behind tidal lagoon project as it loses legal ruling

30 Nov 2021 3 minutes Read
Image of how the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon seawall would look (image supplied and free for use for all BBC wire partners)

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

A company which wanted to build the UK’s first ever tidal energy lagoon in Swansea Bay has lost a legal ruling.

Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Plc sought a High Court declaration to say that it had fulfilled a development consent order for the £1.3 billion project by starting work within five years, as it was required to do.

This was disputed by the UK and Welsh Governments and also Swansea Council, which said it hadn’t.

A High Court judge has now concluded that Tidal Lagoon Plc had not begun the development, and that this in turn removed the rationale for another declaration it was seeking.

Part of the hearing was about the difference, or otherwise, between the words “begin” and “commence”.

The ruling leaves Tidal Lagoon Plc’s already slim hopes of building the renewable energy scheme even slimmer.

Things looked different in June 2015 when it was awarded a development consent order for the Swansea project by the UK Government. The following year it carried out ground investigation and surveys works.

But a failure to secure a financial package of support from Westminster in 2018 left the lagoon looking unviable.

The UK Government’s subsequent commitment to a “net zero” economy renewed Tidal Lagoon Plc’s hopes and it carried out a number of pre-commencement requirements.

But with the clock ticking, one of its directors wrote to the UK Government in May 2020 to request that the development consent order should be extended because it was shortly to expire. This request was refused.

‘Demolition’ 

Tidal Lagoon Plc swiftly pressed on with some demolition and site-clearing works at Swansea docks which, it claimed in a second letter, meant the development had begun within the five-year deadline. The council and two Governments said it hadn’t.

The ruling by Judge Harman QC said Tidal Lagoon Plc’s interpretation was “unsatisfactory” and not one which the 2015 consent order had intended.

The ruling noted the company’s two letters but didn’t place didn’t place any weight on the first.

In a response to the ruling, Tidal Lagoon Plc said: “We are currently reviewing our options with our legal team.”

In the meantime, separate proposals for a Swansea Bay tidal lagoon – plus housing, battery manufacturing and storage, a solar farm and data centre – have been developed.

Details of the planned project, known as Blue Eden, were unveiled in October.

It is being led by Bridgend-based firm DST Innovations and does not involve Tidal Lagoon Plc.

Blue Eden is expected to take 12 years to deliver in full, create 2,500 permanent jobs, but it will require a development consent order among other permissions.

The electricity generated by the lagoon and solar farm would be used on site, but there would be scope for some of it to be exported onto the grid.

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Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin
1 month ago

Sad that this project is suffering so much opposition. On the face of it, the scheme would be good for Wales and the environment, and project Wales as a generator of green energy. Are there some for es of opposition from England?

Paul Reynolds
Paul Reynolds
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Griffin

If you read the article :

“This was disputed by the UK and Welsh Governments and also Swansea Council, which said it hadn’t.”

The scheme had bad funding structures that were potentially exploitative and unstable.

*England” for the most part probably don’t know or care.

Ssmith
Ssmith
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Reynolds

Chip on the shoulder!

Blame someone instead of acknowledging realty.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Griffin

It would utterly destroy our beautiful bay FOREVER!!!

John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Griffin

Generally speaking, blaming the government or creating a pretend enemy to renewable energy as an excuse for this project not proceeding is a typical scam tactic. The company behind such projects, credibility of its executives, and the value for money being offered should be the focal point. Furthermore, in these situations, its sensible to question whether the goal was for the developer to only achieve the development capital (money before a project begins) , have no strong intention to execute, planned procrastination so permits to expire, then make it fail so they don’t need to pay it back with the… Read more »

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago

The second highest rise and fall in the world of the tide around three sides of Wales a gift from God to Wales come on the Welsh government make sure that Welsh people will get the benefit of our resources not stolen by other countries like has already been going for years

Philip Jones
Philip Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

How much of your own money would you invest? Ah not a lot if you have any sense, but you would like taxpayers to invest? Read the details, a fantasy scheme, and the latest just as mad – floating homes in a tidal lagoon ? Yeah right

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

It would utterly destroy our beautiful bay FOREVER!!!

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
1 month ago
Reply to  Dai Rob

Q would you be happy having windmills all around our stunning coastal waters

WR2
WR2
1 month ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

Yes

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  WR2

They say windmill life = 20 years, but even if they last a little longer, the concrete, steel and plastic structures will begin to break down.

Phil Jones
Phil Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

It’s a myth that Swansea Bay has the second highest tides in the world. The Severn Estuary up at Barry and Avonmouth does indeed but there are dozens of places all over the world that have bigger tidal ranges than Swansea.

WR2
WR2
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil Jones

Doesn’t really matter, it is clean free power after the initial building costs. Cheaper than nuclear with out the risks

Philip Jones
Philip Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  WR2

Free ? Did you know the guaranteed price Shorrock wanted ? For 30 years !

Brenda
Brenda
1 month ago

If the charismatic penny-share Shorrock cannot use his charms to get Planning Permission, no-one will.

DCO expired with lots of consents not complied with

No Marine Licence, since app in 2014

Pete.
Pete.
1 month ago
Reply to  Brenda

If it was a nuclear power station, requesting permission to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs, if it was, would the permissions have been so difficult?

WR2
WR2
1 month ago

Stop the petty squabbling and get on with it.
The councillors think they are our rulers. Time they got put in their places, PUBLIC SERVANTS.
Tin gods who,they they own us. Get rid of councillors what is the point of having full time staff and hobbyists who are supplementing their pensions by getting on as many committees as they can

R n Wagstaff
R n Wagstaff
1 month ago
Reply to  WR2

Perhaps we should all look to took care and reduce our individual use of fossil fuels ,plastic waste.
Improved our infrastructure and almost went back in time when the local baker,milkman,grocer were all local.
Reduction in food miles,transit packaging.
Milk in glass bottles.
The need for massive amounts of energy could be reduced permanently with out the loss or degradation of our country.
Too many fingers in too many pies and the cost is having to be carried by nature and our pockets.

Phil Jones
Phil Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  WR2

If that’s the level of your understanding of the issues, there’s not much point in engaging with you.

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