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Renewable Energy Generation: North Wales

Volume 706: debated on Wednesday 5 January 2022

2. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the development of large-scale renewable energy generation in north Wales. (904896)

We recently opened the contracts for difference renewable energy support scheme, with £285 million per year available for projects in Wales, Scotland and England. Nuclear will also play an important role as a low-carbon source of electricity and we continue to explore how we might support a nuclear project at Wylfa.

If we are to achieve net zero while maintaining economic growth, we need more large-scale low-carbon generating projects of the sort represented by the tidal lagoon proposed for Colwyn bay in my constituency. That would have an in-store capacity of over 2 GW and make a huge contribution to national energy security, so is my right hon. Friend prepared to meet me and my hon. Friends the Members for Aberconwy (Robin Millar) and for Vale of Clwyd (Dr Davies), who also have a constituency interest, to discuss this project and see what the Government can do to help move it forward?

I can definitely give my right hon. Friend that commitment, and I would be more than happy if he wanted to bring additional stakeholders from the area into that meeting because there is not only huge potential for nuclear; he mentioned a tidal lagoon and there is also the commitment already made around the Holyhead hydrogen hub; and of course there is almost limitless potential in the Celtic sea for floating offshore wind. I would like to discuss with him and others exactly what opportunities they present.

Blwyddyn newydd dda, Mr Llefarydd—I wish you a wonderful new year. A National Trust-run hydro scheme with eight sites in Eryri has reached its target of producing 20 million kW of energy within eight years; that is enough electricity to power 5,300 homes for one year. The scheme has helped local communities to develop their own community hydro schemes but technical issues in connecting to the grid make that no easy task. What is the Secretary of State’s Government doing to upgrade the electricity grid in rural Wales to enable more such schemes?

The right hon. Lady has raised this issue with me a few times and her point about that initiative is really well made. I am very happy to go with her and talk about particular infrastructure requirements. These things are not straightforward, as she knows, but if there are sensible proposals that we can discuss with not only the relevant Department, but the Welsh Government, who will have a role in this, I would be very happy to do that.

I have heard the Secretary of State mention the offshore wind potential of the Celtic sea. He will know that, as part of Plaid Cymru’s co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government, both parties agree that further powers are needed to support our path to net zero—specifically on the management of the Crown Estate and its assets in Wales. Two months ago, the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies), said that he would look with interest at my Crown Estate (Devolution to Wales) Bill. Given that there is now a clear majority in the Senedd to support the principle of Wales having the same powers, remember, as there are regarding the Crown Estate of Scotland, will the Minister also support my Bill to ensure that the profits of offshore wind go to the people of Wales?

The Under-Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies), was very disappointed not to be here to answer this question in person; he is diligently following Welsh Government regulations on covid isolation and sends his apologies. That said, the relationship that the Crown Estate enjoys with the UK Government, the Welsh Government and stakeholders works very well. I do not think there is any public interest or appetite for altering the terms of that arrangement. Frankly, it is a case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but I am always happy to listen to the right hon. Lady’s arguments.