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June start expected for £1.3 billion Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project

THE company behind the proposed £1.3 billion Swansea Bay tidal lagoon is hoping to start work on site before its planning consent expires next month.

Tidal Power plc has until June 30 to discharge planning conditions which were attached to a development consent order in June 2015.

It has now submitted an application for a revised construction phasing scheme to Swansea Council and Neath Port Talbot Council.

The first phase would be on land only and comprise a new access road at Swansea docks.

Although Tidal Power was given a five-year consent order by the UK Government, the Swansea project looked sunk three years later when ministers decided not to back it financially because they felt it was too expensive, particularly as other renewable energy costs were falling.

And the company still needs a marine licence from Natural Resources Wales to carry out any work at sea.

Tidal Power – formerly Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd – launched another round of fundraising last year in a bid to beat next month’s planning deadline.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “We have been working hard to discharge all of our planning conditions so that we are able to start on site by June 30 and preserve planning permission for our ground-breaking project.”

In a project update last month, Tidal Power said it felt the lagoon “can be a vital component of a Welsh green bounce back”, supplying renewable energy for 120 years creating more than 2,000 construction jobs.

It also said it had finalised land agreements, and that it was working on a decommissioning plan with the UK Government and an adaptive environmental management plan with Swansea Council and Natural Resources Wales.

The 320 megawatt lagoon would, if built, enclose Swansea Bay from the eastern side of the River Tawe to the eastern edge of Swansea University’s Bay Campus with a six-mile, U-shaped seawall.

The Swansea project, which Tidal Power wants to kick-start a fleet of larger UK tidal energy lagoons, has its detractors. Angling groups are worried in particular about its impact on migrating salmon and sea trout.

Separately, a Swansea Bay city region task force has been examining ways of making the tidal lagoon concept more cost-effective and more of an investable proposition.

Ideas include a floating solar farm within the lagoon, plus up to 10,000 floating houses.

The task force believes it can reduce construction costs – and has submitted its recommendations to the Welsh Government.

Speaking in February, Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said the difficulty with the Tidal Power scheme was “in relation to the company proposal itself”, but that the concept of tidal lagoon power was undisputed.

The Conservative MP, who was answering a tidal lagoon question in the Commons from Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, said: “So I hope she can be reassured that as part of the energy mix and as part of the renewable commitment we have made, that tidal lagoon is still there and still under discussion.”

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