Welsh Government to appeal High Court power cut ruling
The Welsh Government has said it will appeal a court ruling that would allow power to several businesses to be cut.
When a bid to prevent the cutting of the power supply to Baglan Energy Park failed in court, businesses were set to face weeks without power.
However, a judge confirmed last week that this court ruling could be appealed and on Friday, Welsh Minister for the Economy Vaughan Gething confirmed that the Welsh Government had started the appeal process.
Pending the outcome of the appeal, power to the energy park, where 1,600 people work, the power supply will continue.
Problems with the power supply to Baglan Energy Park began in June 2020, when the parent company of Baglan Bay Power Station, which supplied power to the site, went into administration.
Although the power station stopped generating electricity, a private wire network and a substation on the site enabled customers to continue receiving power.
However, the official receiver, who is winding down the parent company, said power supply was only intended to be a temporary measure until the company could be liquidated.
Under original plans, power at the site was due to be switched off in January but Welsh counsel general Mick Antoniw, Neath Port Talbot council, Welsh Water and paper firm Sofidel asked the court for an injunction to stop the power being switched off until alternative arrangements were in place.
In March following a court order, businesses at the energy park, including the paper mill Sofidel, faced losing electricity supplies but power for pumping stations near the site was ordered to continue until 18 April.
The parties had warned of flooding and discharge of sewage into the sea if pumping stations operated by Welsh Water and the council lost power.
Lawyers argued shutting down supplies threatened the human rights of members of the public living and working in the area.
The Judge has rejected the human rights claim stating that neither the Welsh Government nor the council, as public bodies, could make a claim under the Human Rights Act.
Sofidel and Welsh Water could make such a claim, but only Sofidel did, and the judge found it had no right under the European Convention on Human Rights “to the continued supply of electricity by an insolvent company at a loss to that company”.
In a statement responding to the ruling that an appeal could be made, Mr Gething said: “Further to my statement of 22 March 2022 on the Baglan Energy Park, the Welsh Government have now been given permission to appeal the decision made in the High Court.
“I am now taking the necessary steps to file that appeal, by Monday 4 April, in accordance with the Court Order.
“At the same time as permission to appeal was granted, the High Court Judge in this matter has also ordered that power to the Baglan Energy Park be maintained until the outcome of that appeal is determined.
“We will continue to work with all relevant parties to seek to secure a solution to the very significant risks of public health and environmental harm including increased flood risk (as well as the risks to the local economy) the termination of the private wire energy supply would create for businesses and citizens in Baglan, ahead of the new distribution network being in place.”
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