SUPPORTERS of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon can expect some positive news this autumn, according to the leader of Swansea Council.
Cllr Rob Stewart gave a brief update on the infrastructure proposal – dubbed Dragon Energy Island – at a meeting of full council, following the submission of a report to the Welsh Government in May.
The lagoon report was put together by a task force which came up with some eye-catching ideas, including a floating community of up to 10,000 homes and shops.
These properties would sit within the walled lagoon area and rise and fall with the tide.
Also proposed was a floating solar farm, and an underwater data centre for technology companies to keep servers cool.
The proposed lagoon’s footprint would be the same as the one which gained planning consent in 2015 but never got built after the UK Government declined to offer a financial support package to make the energy-generating scheme commercially viable.
Cllr Stewart told councillors on August 29 that discussions had been taking place between the Welsh Government and the Swansea Bay City Region-led task force.
The Welsh Government, he said, has “responded positively to the report”.
He added: “We expect a positive announcement on the next steps for the lagoon in the autumn.”
Speaking in May, Swansea’s Labour leader said the estimated cost of the new-look lagoon was up to 30% lower than the £1.3bn original – but this did not take into account the houses, solar farm and data centre.
The saving of £300 million is understood to come from a remodelled lagoon seawall, and changes in the way the seawall and turbine elements of the project would be procured.
Next steps could include a search for a private sector partner to deliver the scheme.
Eleven companies and institutions have already expressed interest in all or parts of it.
The lagoon given planning consent in 2015 had opponents, particularly among angling groups worried about its potential effects on migrating fish. And it did not receive a marine licence from Natural Resources Wales.
The idea was for the Swansea lagoon to act as a pathfinder for a series of larger UK tidal lagoons, including schemes off Cardiff, Newport and Colwyn Bay.
The Welsh Government wants Wales to generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources, like tidal energy, by 2030.
A spokesman said in response to Cllr Stewart’s latest comments: “We are currently considering the Swansea Bay City Region taskforce report setting out a new model for the delivery of a tidal lagoon project.”