Tidal Lagoon project needs and deserves rapid advance. The Government needs to get off the fence, and fast.

I rise today in order to urge the government to give this vitally important project the go ahead, and soon.

Thank you, Mr Chairman. It is a privilege to speak in this debate and I would like to thank the Hon Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire for securing it.

I think the presence of so many Hon. Members here today shows, in part, why this project is of such importance.

I rise today in order to urge the government to give this vitally important project the go ahead, and soon.

Chair, I believe that the tidal lagoon should be approved for the following reasons.

First, because it offers Wales, and the Swansea Bay region in particular, an unrivalled opportunity to place itself at the forefront of what this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos called the “Fourth Industrial revolution”.

An industrial revolution that will be characterised by new forms of renewable energy, and by the exponential outward expansion of technological innovation.

We can be at the vanguard of this revolution, and the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon would be a catalyst.

To have the first project of this type in Wales, and not only that Mr Chair, in my constituency of Aberavon it would be a source of tremendous national and local pride.

The project will also provide a significant alternative to carbon intensive energy.

This is a chance to harness the natural environment, the unique nature of the Swansea Bay, to our advantage. It is an opportunity to use the environment to protect the environment, power the local community, local homes and also to save money.

Because, yes, secondly, the Tidal Lagoon will, in the long run, not only help to tackle climate change, but it will also save us money.

The Tidal Lagoon requires a strike price of £96 per MWh – that is 16% below the cost of any offshore wind-farm ever granted a contract.

And with a predicted cross-over point meaning that for over half its lifetime the Lagoon will actually pay money to the Government, we can reasonably state that, over the projects lifespan, it will deliver cheaper than wholesale electricity.

The combination of the Swansea and Cardiff tidal lagoon project, the first two of their kind in the world, would, over the course of their lifetimes, be the cheapest form of electrical generation on the UK grid.

Third, the project will create thousands of highly skilled, well paid jobs locally.

Supporting hundreds of local businesses.

Indeed, it is already having a positive impact in the local area, giving rise to plans for many small businesses in the city bay region, and feeding into the strategy for a Swansea City Deal.

This is exactly the kind of project that we must go ahead if we are to see the rebalancing of the economy that the government have been so keen to talk about, but not so keen to act upon.

Well here is there chance. Approve the Tidal Lagoon and create jobs, support small businesses in the area, help rebalance the economy and produce green energy. 

Finally, as Hon and Right Hon Members will be aware, the Welsh Steel industry is going through testing times. 

And nowhere is that more acutely felt than in my constituency, where we are recovering from the devastating news two months ago of 750 job losses at the Tata steelworks in Port Talbot.

And with the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon there is a real opportunity to support not only the local community, but also the local steel industry.

The turbines and generator package is worth around £300million, and Tidal Lagoon Power have committed to sourcing all major parts from the UK.

The company have detailed plans in place for a Turbine manufacturing plant in Swansea docks, heavy fabrication in Pembroke and the generators are to be manufactured in Newport and Rugby.

This is all welcome, but I want to see the government go further when approving the project, and show real leadership by committing to help source all or as much of the steel for the turbines from the British Steel Industry.

Not only would this help create jobs across the Swansea Bay area, helping some of those highly trained and skilled men and women who were made redundant at Port Talbot in January, it would also help support local jobs at the Port Talbot Steelworks.

Supporting local jobs and Welsh steel.

A positive decision on the Lagoon will put a much needed tick in the governments green credential and deliver a massive boost to the local economy and steel industry.

This project needs and deserves rapid advance. The Government needs to get off the fence, and fast.

Because each day of delay is costing months or years of progress.

The recently announced review cannot be another airport-style case of kicking things into the long grass.

While welcoming the review the Chief Executive of Tidal Lagoon Power, Mark Shorrock made clear, and I quote him directly here that “A welcome review should not be a substitute for action.”

He made clear than unless work starts on the Lagoon now, unless structuring and commercial negotiations are concluded in the next 6 weeks that, and I quote again, the “opportunity will be lost and the review will be all for nothing”.

That was almost a month ago to the day.

That gives the government just two weeks if this project is to go ahead on schedule.

The clock is ticking.

If the government want to know what the time is, well, its time to act now.

Thank you.

 

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