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Government Agency Highlights ‘Major Adverse Effect’ on Fish from Proposed Tidal Lagoon

08.12.16

Tidal Lagoon Swansea (the smallest of them all)

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has revealed that, on the best available evidence, the proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay could have a 'major adverse effect' on migratory fish due to injury as they pass through the turbines. 

In a letter to consultees, NRW estimates that 21% of salmon and 25% of sea trout, species of national importance, could be killed every year as they migrate to and from local rivers, mainly the Tawe, Neath and Afan.  These estimates are far higher than the numbers provided by Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (TLSB), the company promoting the scheme.  TLSB has consistently claimed to the Angling Trust and Fish Legal and in their various planning applications that the impact on fisheries would be minor. 

The information emerged just before the delivery to Ministers of the Hendry Review which was commissioned by the government to consider whether or not the proposed lagoons represent good value for money for electricity bill payers over the next century, and a Westminster Hall debate in parliament about lagoons this week.  Publication of the review is expected at the end of the year.

Smaller impacts are predicted on other migratory fish species but since these include shad, lamprey and eel which are deemed of international importance, these are also classed as “major adverse effects” by NRW.  Moderate adverse effects are also predicted for some sea fish, namely cod, whiting and sandeel.

The predicted potential impact levels will be used by NRW in its determination of a Marine Licence which is required before the lagoon can be built, in the event that the government does deem the scheme good value for money.   The developers have presented their business case around the construction of multiple lagoons including three, Cardiff, Newport and Bridgwater Bay, in the highly protected Severn Estuary. The impact of lagoons on fish will be a major consideration in the viability of these schemes, which would affect salmon, sea trout, shad, eels and lamprey migrating to and from the Rivers Wye and Usk. Both rivers have the highest level of international environmental protection designation. Other rivers would also be affected, including the Severn itself. 

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “Working with local angling clubs, we have continually challenged TLSB's assurances about the likely impact on fish from passing through the turbines and we welcome this statement from NRW which reveals the true impact of this highly risky scheme, using untested technology in a very sensitive environment.  Fish are likely to be affected in other ways as well, including increased vulnerability to predation and having their migration critically delayed by being trapped inside the lagoon.  We have expressed concerns about the various impacts of a lagoon in Swansea Bay on fish and TLSB's ability to mitigate these or even to monitor them effectively.  NRW’s conclusions must cast doubt not only on the viability of the lagoon in Swansea Bay but of those proposed in even more environmentally sensitive areas near Cardiff, elsewhere in the Severn Estuary and around the UK coastline.”

Notes to editors:

1. The advice from Natural Resources Wales is available HERE.

2. For information about the international conservation designations of:

·         The Severn Estuary, see: http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/3977366 . Section 3.7 relates to fish.

·         The River Wye, see:

o   http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/6096799802589184 and

o   http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/protectedsites/sacselection/sac.asp?EUCode=UK0012642

·         The River Usk, see:

http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/protectedsites/sacselection/sac.asp?EUcode=UK0013007

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