Tidal lagoon power is an idea whose time has come

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Thank you very much, Mr Paisley, for calling me to speak. It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship and I congratulate the right hon. Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Stephen Crabb) on securing the debate.

My constituency of Aberavon, along with that of my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris), a neighbouring constituency, would be the home of the Swansea bay tidal lagoon project, which would be the first such project in the world. Tidal lagoon power is an idea whose time has come.

The Swansea bay tidal lagoon would produce enough energy to power 150,000 Welsh homes for 120 years, meeting 11% of Welsh energy needs with clean, green, reliable and sustainable energy, saving almost a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon during each year of operations. It would directly sustain over 2,000 construction and manufacturing jobs in Wales, and support as many as 311 UK industrial and manufacturing businesses along the supply chain. Crucially for my Aberavon constituency, the project will require more than 100,000 tonnes of steel, much of which will come through the Port Talbot steelworks. Tidal Lagoon Power has committed to procuring as much steel as possible from UK suppliers and it should be commended for making that pledge and held to it.

As the project will be the first of its kind in the world, it is estimated that, in its first year, 200,000 people will visit the lagoon to see the national boating centre and other facilities. That will mean £8 million in tourism revenue, including £2 million from the oyster-shaped visitor centre, £500,000 from the national boating centre and almost £1 million from the elite performance sports centre. The project has the support of almost 90% of local stakeholders and it was included in the manifesto upon which every major party stood at the last general election. In sum, the Government are fast running out of excuses for delaying a positive decision.

A final decision will, of course, be made following consideration of the Hendry review. That was supposed to have been received before the autumn statement, but we understand that the Government asked for the report to be delayed, in the light of the possible ramifications of other announcements. Can the Minister please inform us what impact, if any, the autumn statement has had on the review?

We now understand that the review is expected to be submitted to the Secretary of State this afternoon. Can the Minister please inform the House whether the review has already been submitted? If not, when will it be submitted? Will he commit to his Department publishing the Hendry review publicly?

Members of this House, our constituents and local businesses should see the review and the case presented by Hendry either for or against tidal lagoon power. There are live investment decisions that need to be made or at least planned imminently. For the decisions to go forward, investors need at the very least a clear sense of the decision-making and implementation process. Will the Minister please make clear what the formal decision-making process will be and when we can expect a public decision? Will we have to wait until the Budget? Will the Secretary of State make a statement in the coming months either as a separate standalone statement ​or as part of his national industrial strategy statement? Will the Government also make it clear what the timescale and process will be for implementation of any decision following the Hendry review? Investors, business and our communities need an end to the uncertainty. All major parties made clear manifesto commitments to tidal lagoons and in particular to the Swansea bay tidal lagoon. It is about time we fulfilled those commitments and delivered jobs, energy and opportunity to the Swansea bay region.