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Swansea Tidal Lagoon

Volume 604: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2016

I recognise that the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon project has the potential to establish Wales as a major hub for tidal power, creating thousands of jobs and attracting millions of pounds of investment. Robust due diligence is, of course, essential in the interest of taxpayers, who would incur the cost of any subsidy through their energy bills.

Dean Quarry in my constituency is likely to be the source of stone for the tidal lagoon. For over a year, local residents have been concerned about that because it is an important tourist area and marine conservation zone, and we believe there are cheaper areas from which to source the stone. Does the Minister agree that the impact on the environment and the economy is too great and that other sources of stone are available? Will the Government look for places other than Dean Quarry to get the stone?

I am aware of the issue raised by my hon. Friend, who is as ever a powerful and effective voice on behalf of his constituents. Planning applications in relation to Dean Quarry would be dealt with by the Marine Management Organisation and local authorities, which should absolutely take into account local concerns.

Local businesses across Wales are eagerly anticipating the investment that the tidal lagoon will bring. It would be a travesty if the UK Government were to pull the plug on the lagoon, so can the Minister confirm that they remain committed to the project and to agreeing a strike price for the tidal lagoon?

The hon. Lady is right: this is a big, potentially very exciting and significant project. It is also a project that is looking for a large amount of public subsidy and intervention, and it is absolutely right—not that we would expect Opposition Members to understand this—that when we are dealing with large sums of taxpayers’ money, there needs to be due diligence.

Swansea bay tidal lagoon and the other potential lagoons that may result from it provide amazing opportunities for exports of intellectual property, technology and supply chains across south Wales. Will the Secretary of State at least commit to making it happen and doing it as soon as possible?

I repeat the answer I gave to the hon. Gentleman’s colleague. We recognise that this is a potentially very exciting and significant project, in delivering low-carbon renewable energy over a long period. We need to look carefully at the finances to ensure that it delivers value for taxpayers, who will be asked to put a large amount of subsidy into the project.