Angling trust smells something fishy in Swansea tidal report

Angling trust Fish Legal has slammed Tidal Lagoon Power’s fish impact assessment for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, calling the report ‘fundamentally flawed’.

Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) filed the assessment in July 2017 to Natural Resources Wales, stating that the impacts of the proposed tidal lagoon development in Swansea are ‘likely to be very low’ on the fish species in the area.

However, Fish Legal deemed TLP’s environmental impact modelling as scientifically inadequate, and based on poor data and flawed assumptions.

“Fish Legal is very concerned, based on independent expert analysis, that the company’s new assessment is misleading and overconfident, in fact providing little certainty about the impact of the lagoon on already endangered stocks of salmon and other fish species,” Fish Legal said.

The angling trust, representing several of its member angling clubs in South Wales, set out its concerns based on initial expert analysis in a letter to Natural Resources Wales.

TLP needs to obtain a marine license to begin with any of the marine works for the project as it is the Welsh government’s body in charge of sustainable management of its natural resources.

Fish legal claims TLP made assumptions that were overly-optimistic, failing to gather basic field data about the behavior of fish in Swansea Bay itself and apply knowledge from scientific studies elsewhere, among other things.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “This further re-working of the evidence remains disappointingly weak. Despite its apparent complexity, it amounts to little more than a guess, because so little baseline data is available.

“We expect Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and its scientific advisors to take a more objective view and reject it once again. A marine license issued on the basis of not fully re-examining such an overly-optimistic analysis of selective and inadequate data could be open to judicial review. Fish Legal will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our members’ fisheries.”

To remind, TLP and NRW entered dispute over the predicted fish death rates caused by the lagoon late in 2016.

TLP argued that NRW’s figures, which were interpreted as having ‘major adverse effects’ on the fish in the area, were ‘misleading’ and that the effects were demonstrated to be minimal.

Following the submission of the new report, now questioned by Fish Legal, TLP said the potential impact on migratory and marine fish species, along with associated assessments under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations and Water Framework Directive, were the only remaining issues to be addressed before the marine license can be determined.

“NRW will now agree their consultation process before confirming timescales for a decision. We very much hope to receive the marine license from NRW for this transformational project in early 2018,” according to the July 2017 statement from TLP.

The proposed £1.3 billion Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, with the capacity of 320MW, comprises 16 hydro turbines, and a six-mile breakwater wall.

If constructed, it would be capable of generating electricity for 155,000 homes for the next 120 years.