Another good 90 minute debate at Westminster today about the much discussed Swansea Tidal Lagoon. The debate was led by Stephen Crabb, Conservative MP for Presceli Pembrokeshire, who was supported by almost all opposition parties in the House of Commons. It was a very one-sided debate. The cost hardly mentioned. I'd like to have spoken in the debate myself, but because of my close working relationship with Welsh Office ministers felt it unwise to do so. But on my blog, A View from Rural Wales, I reckon I can get away with it. If I choose my words carefully, I don't seem to land myself in any trouble. And anyway, despite being entirely positive about the proposal, I fear my contribution would have seemed negative - much like that of the only Conservative backbencher to speak, Antoinette Sandbach. Same goes for Minister, Jesse Norman who was responding on behalf of the Govt.
Everyone wants to see the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon going ahead. It's an exciting new technology. The proposal itself is comparative.y small, but can be looked at as a pilot for much bigger schemes around the coast of Britain. Like everyone else, I hope we can find a way of using tidal energy to produce power, and Swansea Bay could be the key.
But it cannot be at any price. Govts cannot do that, and the current Govt has commissioned a report on the potential of UK tidal power from former respected DECC minister, Charles Hendry. None of us have seen this report yet. Despite rumours circulating around Westminster, I have no idea what this report says. The report is into tidal power, rather than just the Swansea Bay project. It will inform Govt's thinking. But as Antoinette and Jesse Norman both said today, (and I would have said if I'd spoken) it has to be financially viable. It falls to Government to always balance benefits against cost, and make a decision based on value for money. Not much consideration of this aspect of the proposal. It's what will matter to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister though. I'm looking forward to knowing what is decided - in due course.