PROPOSALS for a new-look tidal lagoon and floating island of 10,000 houses and shops have received a cautious welcome from opposition parties in Swansea.
Liberal Democrat leader councillor Chris Holley said the party had always backed the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon concept and would continue to do so.
He was speaking in the wake of the Dragon Energy Island proposal announced by a Swansea Bay City Region task force led by council leader Rob Stewart.
It is very early days but components of the scheme include the floating houses and shops, a solar energy farm and an underwater data centre – all encircled by an energy-generating lagoon.
The lagoon would be based on the footprint of the one promoted by a company called Tidal Lagoon Power.
Members of the city region’s ruling joint committee will discuss the energy and infrastructure proposal at a meeting on May 28.
Cllr Holley said: “We were bitterly disappointed when the UK Government did not support the [Tidal Lagoon Power] lagoon last year.
“We would look favourably on any proposal which could bring it forward.”
He said funding would be needed to finance feasibility studies, given what he perceived as major engineering challenges.
“This is not the Mediterranean we are talking about it – it’s the Bristol Channel, on the verge of the Atlantic,” said Cllr Holley.
“It’s not exactly very calm in the winter out there.”
An independent report commissioned by the task force said the lagoon element of Dragon Energy Island could be delivered up to 30% cheaper than the £1.3bn Tidal Lagoon Power price tag.
It is understood the savings would come from a remodelled lagoon seawall and changes in the way the seawall and turbine elements of the lagoon would be procured.
Swansea Conservative leader Lyndon Jones said such a saving – should it provide to be deliverable – would raise questions about the cost of the original lagoon.
“We supported the [Tidal Lagoon Power] lagoon all the way through,” said Cllr Jones.
“If it can be delivered for Swansea we are very keen for that to happen.”
Dragon Energy Project would need planning permission and a marine licence among other consents.
The report to be discussed next week said the aim was to avoid the need for a UK Government package of financial support – known as a contract for difference – which sunk the Tidal Lagoon Power proposal.
This, it said, could be achieved by an investment from the Welsh Government in the form of a bond and the ability to sell electricity directly to organisations, thereby improving revenue streams.
Some of the electricity could also create high-value hydrogen and oxygen for commercial and industrial use.
Public reaction to Dragon Energy Island has been varied, with a fair amount of scepticism to the fore.
Writing on Facebook, Kieran Rowland said: “It’s Swansea not Dubai.”
Mary Price wrote: “Floating homes on the sea, with the second-highest tide in the world? I don’t think so!”
And Aidan Biddiscombe added: “Can they calm down with all these radical redevelopment plans? Work has barely even started on the digital arena. Shouldn’t they slow down a bit?”