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Anglers celebrate government decision not to subsidise tidal lagoons


swansea bay tidal lagoon drawing x550px

Artist's impression of Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon walkway

Anglers in South Wales have welcomed the UK government’s decision not to provide financial support for the proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay that would have risked serious harm to marine and migratory fish populations, and other aquatic wildlife.

The Angling Trust and Fish Legal, representing their member angling clubs and fishery owners in South Wales, have over the past five years repeatedly and robustly challenged Tidal Lagoon Power’s economic and environmental evidence in support of the lagoon, which was being presented as a ‘pathfinder’ for further, larger schemes in the Severn estuary and elsewhere in the UK.

The Government’s decision is primarily based on failing to meet value for public money compared with other technologies in the renewables sector and as such is good for taxpayers and billpayers. The company’s own highly-optimistic cost projections did not include sufficient contingencies for environmental mitigation that would have been required if the scheme had been given the go-ahead.

Even if the Government had offered financial support, the scheme had still not met the requirements specified in its Development Consent Order. Neither had it secured the required marine licence from Natural Resources Wales. The regulator has been unable to conclude that there would not be unacceptable environmental risks and as a result has deferred any decision until well into 2019. The Angling Trust & Fish Legal believe that granting a licence based on the flawed evidence submitted by Tidal Lagoon Power would have been unlawful and our organisations would have sought judicial review to challenge it because of the impact on marine and migratory fish.

It had been suggested that Swansea should have gone ahead as a high-risk experimental ‘pathfinder’ for much larger proposed lagoons near Cardiff and Newport, even though it would itself have generated a negligible amount of power for the costs involved. This suggestion was illogical as the other proposed projects are in even more highly-protected areas than Swansea and would have created even greater environmental risks, such as to the fragile salmon, shad, eel and lamprey populations of the Rivers Wye, Usk and Severn.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “After being fully engaged in assessing the risks of this project for many years now, we believe this is fantastic news for anglers and many others who care about the fish populations in South Wales rivers and coastal waters and I applaud the Government’s decision. Although the company’s spin doctors and Chief Executive relentlessly presented this project as having huge economic and environmental benefits, the truth is that it would have generated very few long term jobs, highly expensive energy and huge risks to the local and regional environment.”

Welcoming the announcement. Ray Lockyer, Life President of Pontardawe and Swansea Anglers, said: "This proposal has been a major concern to us for the last five years and we have had to put in a tremendous amount of work opposing the various consents that it requires. Our fears that it could cause major harm to the runs of salmon and sea trout into the Tawe and other Swansea Bay rivers have been taken seriously by NRW and other experts and we hope that those consent processes will come to an end, now that a generating subsidy for this monstrosity has been refused."

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