A company set up to develop a £7 billion tidal energy scheme along the coast of North Wales says the scope of an independent review is too narrow.
According to the North Wales Tidal Energy & Coast Protection Company (NWTE), the review of the wider tidal power sector announced by the UK Government should also include coastal protection and the massive economic benefits it would bring in its wake.
The company’s proposals would generate 2GW of natural, renewable energy and in the process create thousands of construction jobs, dramatically transforming the region’s economic prosperity.
St Asaph-based NWTE aim to work with local communities and business people to create a “world-leading tidal energy programme” and flood protection for places like Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and St Asaph.
Chairman Henry Dixon said: “It will provide much-needed coastal protection for vital strategic assets and communities where people currently live with the constant fear of devastating floods.
“We welcome the announcement of an independent review into the feasibility and practicality of tidal lagoon energy in the UK, but we are urging the Government to widen its remit to include key benefits such as coastal protection and economic development.”
“The focus on the six-month review, to be held in consultation with the relevant Government departments, is to assess whether, and in what circumstances, tidal lagoons could play a cost effective role as part of the UK energy mix.
“Tidal impoundments have the potential to offer significant benefits to the UK economy.
“As a country, we are blessed with some of the best locations in the world for capturing and harnessing tidal surge energy.
“The Government’s review recognises the potential of such projects to provide secure, clean and affordable energy for families and businesses across the country. The review’s focus on design, financing, costs and business models will be welcomed by the whole industry and its many supporters.
“However, tidal impoundments have so much more to offer. Communities that live close to the coast will benefit from enhanced coastal protection.
“In addition, the construction of schemes of the size being proposed offer significant economic development for the whole region – both during and after the construction phase. We urge the Government to ensure that these essential elements are addressed in its review.”
NWTE revealed there had been a great deal of positive interest in their project from a wide range of stakeholders project following a successful presentation at the House of Commons last November.
They’re now working with partners to submit an initial Environmental Scoping Report (ES) to Natural Resources Wales.
NWTE’s technical director, Professor John Reynold, said: “Good progress is being made in furthering the project design, engaging with the wide range of consultants necessary to progress and maintaining positive dialogue with Natural Resources Wales and local community stakeholders.
“The North Wales coast and offshore region are part of a complex system that needs to be understood in much more detail before any definitive project designs are produced.”
“This is why NWTE is taking a staged approach in order to establish a world-class scientific baseline that will serve as the foundation for subsequent mapping and monitoring, and refinement of the final project design.”
It was a point echoed by Dr Stuart Anderson, head of NWTE’s community engagement advisory group.
He said: “Community engagement is the heart of NWTE’s thinking.
“Businesses and communities along the coast know that they can expect to be more exposed to flooding in the future.
“It is vital, therefore, that steps are taken to improve the flood resilience of the North Wales coastal region, highlighted by the challenges and flooding experienced by communities in Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and St Asaph in recent years.
“At this early stage, before plans have been firmed up, NWTE is being careful not to raise false expectations of what the company can contribute; however, our vision is to be a part of the region’s planning and resilience.”
“We believe that, as reserves of fossil fuels dwindle in the coming years, the need to deploy large scale renewable generation technology will increase substantially.
“To provide the reliable electricity generation that can meet the future needs of our society, it is essential to harness tidal power.
“Enhanced coastal protection is also at the heart our approach. We envisage that integrating energy generation with coastal defence will not only deliver a greater return on investment but help to ensure the economic and environmental security that communities along the coast are seeking.”