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Marine Energy

Volume 637: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2018

1. What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the place of marine energy in the industrial strategy; and if he will make a statement. (904324)

My ministerial colleagues and I have regular discussions with our counterparts in the Welsh Government on all aspects of the industrial strategy. Last week, my officials were in Cardiff to discuss with the Welsh Government the proposed Swansea bay tidal lagoon.

At the heart of the industrial strategy is spreading prosperity across the whole of the United Kingdom, and working with devolved Administrations in our nations and regions will help to achieve that. The Welsh Government are working with practical developers—Minesto, an international company, and local company Morlais—to develop marine energy in my part of the world. The Secretary of State mentioned the Swansea bay tidal lagoon. Will he now make a decision and work with the Welsh Government and with developers so that we can roll that out, maximise our potential, and spread prosperity in this part of the United Kingdom?

I share the hon. Gentleman’s enthusiasm for green energy, as he knows, and I am proud of our achievements. Since 2010, we have quadrupled the proportion of our electricity that comes from renewable sources. However, as the hon. Gentleman understands from being on the Select Committee, we also have a responsibility to minimise the impact on consumers’ bills. The Swansea proposal was very much more expensive—more than twice as expensive—as the Hinkley nuclear power station, for example. As I said, though, we are in discussions with our colleagues in the Welsh Government. I do not want to close the door on something if it is possible to find a way to justify it as being affordable to consumers.

I, too, say to the Minister that making a decision on the Swansea bay tidal lagoon is important for Wales as a whole. There is huge potential for future lagoons around Newport following the Swansea pathfinder. It is really important that we do not pass up these opportunities.

I take the hon. Lady’s point. I think that everyone recognises these issues. In fact, the First Minister wrote to me yesterday and acknowledged the

“genuine challenges in…considering a proposal involving untried technology with high capital costs and significant uncertainties.”

That is why the best way to do this is to explore all the possibilities and to recognise the constraints. That is what I have committed to with colleagues in the Welsh Government.