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Tidal Lagoons

Volume 613: debated on Wednesday 13 July 2016

6. What assessment the Government have made of the potential contribution of tidal lagoons to energy production in Wales. (905788)

Tidal lagoons have the potential to make a significant contribution to the UK energy mix, and exciting projects in Wales such as the Swansea bay lagoon deserve serious consideration. That is why we have commissioned an independent review of tidal lagoons, and I look forward to reading its findings in the autumn.

The Bristol channel has the second highest tidal rise and fall in the world. We need to harness that power and we can pay for it over a longer period because it will create power for hundreds of years to come.

I thank my hon. Friend for his passionate remarks. He is right that that potential exists, and that is why we have commissioned an independent review that will report in the autumn. It needs to look carefully at the costs and benefits of a potential tidal lagoon. We are supportive of the concept, but we have to ensure that we balance the development against the cost to the UK taxpayer.

As the Minister will know, many renewable energy projects depend on EU funding—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] Mr Speaker, I did not know I was that popular! Such projects include the Swansea bay tidal lagoon. Will the Minister provide a cast-iron guarantee that the UK Government will meet that funding if it is lost as we exit the EU?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that he is not that popular.

The complex tidal lagoon issue is being considered—we are looking at all the issues. I am not aware of any EU funding that was committed to the tidal lagoon project, so I can offer no guarantees.

The Hendry review team has met representatives of business and civic society right across Wales. The tidal lagoon infrastructure project is a massive economic opportunity for Wales and my constituency in particular. Will the Minister assure the House that he will emphasise to the Hendry review how much support and enthusiasm there is for this project, and how important it is that this vital scheme is completed as a matter of urgency?

I welcome the hon. Lady to her place on the Front Bench. I fully accept the comments made about support for the concept in the Swansea area, and I can confirm that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already met Charles Hendry to discuss the project. It is not my position to prejudge an independent report, but I assure her that the views of the residents and local authorities in south Wales are known to Charles Hendry.