Reports that the UK Government is set to reject plans for a tidal power lagoon in Swansea Bay have been greeted with anger in Wales.
The Financial Times reported that Business Secretary Greg Clark will next week give the thumbs-down to the £1.3 billion scheme for a six-mile sea-wall with turbines to generate low-carbon electricity.
Mr Clark’s Business Department would not confirm a final decision at this stage, but said that any development must represent value for money for taxpayers and consumers.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said rejection of the scheme would be “a kick in the teeth” for the people of Wales, while Plaid Cymru said it was time for decision-making powers to be handed from Westminster to Cardiff.
The FT said ministers were baulking at the level of subsidy required for the proposal by Tidal Lagoon Power, with one unnamed Government figure saying there was “not a cat’s chance in hell” of it being approved.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “As the Business Secretary told MPs recently, while we have quadrupled the proportion of our electricity that comes from renewable sources since 2010, we have a responsibility to minimise the impact on consumer bills and the Swansea proposal is more than twice as expensive as the Hinkley power station.
“Any decision on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project will have to represent value for money for the UK taxpayer as well as the consumer.
“However, we have committed to continue exploring all of the possibilities and challenges in considering a proposal that – as the First Minister of the Welsh Government pointed out – involves an untried technology with high capital costs and significant uncertainties.”
Mr Jones said: “If these rumours prove to be true, the UK Government will be delivering a massive blow to Swansea and Wales more widely – yet another kick in the teeth after their decision to abandon electrification of the train line west of Cardiff.
“The Welsh Government remains committed to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and we stand ready to provide significant financial backing to help make it a reality.
“Rather than seize the opportunity presented by the project to position Britain as a world leader in a new global industry, the UK Government continues to block the development of renewable energy schemes in Wales.
“I strongly urge the UK Government to make a decision as soon as possible and put an end to all the rumours and uncertainty.”
Plaid AM Dai Lloyd said the Swansea project would pave the way for further developments in Cardiff and Colwyn Bay which could produce enough electricity to power the whole of Wales.
“We cannot continue to accept a situation whereby Westminster is able to decide how Welsh resources are used,” he said.
“The people of Wales are behind this project, the Welsh Government are behind this project and the people of Swansea are behind this project. But Westminster says no.
“This cannot continue. Decisions affecting Wales must be made in Wales.”
Liberal Democrat former energy secretary Sir Edward Davey said: “Tidal lagoons are the obvious next step in Britain’s renewable power revolution.
“The Conservatives’ decision to reject the Swansea Bay pilot against all the evidence, not least in the excellent review by Charles Hendry, is a historic mistake.
“This will mean more expensive electricity in the future for British consumers and leave others to lead the world’s tidal industry. The opposite of what we thought ministers meant by Industrial Strategy.”
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