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Swansea Lagoon Could Come Through Green New Deal, says Swansea Council Chief

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A new Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon could be part of a Green New Deal, according to the leader of Swansea City Council Rob Stewart.

Rob was speaking in the latest Wales Business Review podcast hosted by former First Minister Carwyn Jones and aired on Business News Wales last Friday.

In the podcast Rob, who was joined by former Environment Minister and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity St David Jane Davidson, said Swansea City Council had fought hard to try to get the go ahead for the Swansea Bay lagoon agreed by the UK Government.

He said:

“We continue to support all efforts to try to get it over the line, but the Development Consent Order is likely to expire now in a few weeks’ time, so we’ve got to look at another way to resurrect that project, because even though the original plan didn’t get supported the technology needs to be developed and we need to see that first lagoon come online.”

Rob said he’d been having positive discussions with Welsh Government First Minister Mark Drakeford and Economy Minister Ken Skates, and there appeared to be potential to get the lagoon supported as part of the Green New Deal.

He added that he was hopeful that the UK Government might support the project under the new circumstances and the latest revisions to the plans.

“The problems that face our planet and future generations, switching our energy from fossil fuels to renewable resources, definitely need things like the lagoon, and the new modelling I’ve seen, using the energy produced to create hydrogen for instance for a new fleet of hydrogen vehicles and hydrogen trains, absolutely is in line with the new UK Government thinking.

“They’ve caught up with us which is great. We still haven’t closed off the fact that the UK Government might well play some part in supporting this lagoon.”

At the beginning of June Swansea Council approved a new 300 kw solar farm on Kilvey Hill just north of the city, and Rob said there other renewable energy projects were expected to come online shortly.

He said the latest proposals for the lagoon included putting a large floating solar farm in the lagoon’s basin, “as well as using other innovative sources to develop energy production within the bowl of the lagoon”.

Jane Davidson said she detected a change in public attitudes towards renewable energy. She said:

“For decades the energy companies have offered people a model where you turn on a switch and you get light, you turn on another and you get heat, and people haven’t thought about where that light and that heat comes from. It’s probably only really in the last decade that people have started realising that where they get the light and the heat actually could have a significant effect on their lives and the lives of their children and potentially grandchildren.”

She said the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which she helped prepare the ground for when she was Environment Minister until 2011, encouraged people to think of prosperity in a new way that took the future into account.

“Wales is starting to be seen as a place where people can be really imaginative and inventive around new kinds of system that will not transfer the problem to future generations but will potentially transfer the solution,” she added.

The Wales Business Review is recorded every week and published on Business News Wales every Friday.