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Row over Swansea tidal power plans set to reignite

The long-standing row over the troubled Swansea Tidal Lagoon project is set to reignite today as MPs gather to scrutinise the project’s costs while a rival developer claims its project could be half the price.
Mark Sharrock, the boss of developer Tidal Lagoon Power, is braced for questioning from a joint select committee hearing this morning which hopes to thrash out the reasons behind a five year political stalemate over whether to support the ?1.3bn project.
Meanwhile, Mr Sharrock’s long-time industry rival has put forward competing plans ahead of the hearing for a pair of tidal lagoon projects at half the cost of constructing the Swansea project.
David Davies, the welsh affairs committee chair, said there are still “serious questions” to be asked about the value for money of the project, and its environmental impacts, even after the project won favour in an independent review by former energy minister Charles Hendry two years ago.
The Swansea plan has the enthusiastic backing of many Welsh MPs who believe the clean power project, and its proposed follow-on venture near Cardiff, will bring an economic boom to the area.
But others have balked at the developer’s call to be paid ?89.90 for every mega-watt hour of electricity produced from the relatively untested technology over its entire 90-year lifespan.
Row over Swansea tidal power plans set to reignite

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon project

Credit:
Tidal Lagoon Power
Dale Vince, the unconventional green industrialist behind Ecotricity, claims that his rival projects at Solway Firth on the Scottish border will have “superior economics” and the same generation capacity as Swansea.
The owner of Britain’s first vegan football team is a long-time critic of the Swansea project, which he has branded “hideously expensive”, and has called for an “open competitive process” in which the pair can vie for funding.
“The Government has done well to resist the last couple of years of intense lobbying pressure from backers of the Swansea scheme,” Mr Vince said, “There was never a case for paying that much or for moving too quickly to allow for proper competition.”
The timing of Mr Vince’s intervention ahead of the make or break committee hearing is likely to raise eyebrows after his failed attempt last summer to infiltrate the board of rival green energy supplier Good Energy, whose chief executive, Juliet Davenport, is also Mr Sharrock’s wife.
Rachel Reeves, the business select committee chair, said the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project has been “a tale of indecision with the Government having dithered over this for five years and still to reply to the Hendry Review, published over a year ago”.
“If the Government wants to go ahead with this project, then it needs to say so urgently. If not, then it must get on with it and let the public and investors know of its intentions,” she said.
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