More challenges on the horizon for UK tidal lagoons

Artist’s Impression – Swansea Bay tidal lagoon (Image: TLP)

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) of UK reportedly intends to object to the plans for the construction of additional tidal lagoons in the UK until the potential environmental impacts are properly assessed on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon – if given a go-ahead.

The RSPB is asking for a delay between the construction of the tidal lagoon projects stating that the environmental impacts of tidal lagoons are at the moment not well understood and that years of delay between the projects is necessary to assess the potential impacts on wildlife and fish, The Telegraph reports.

The Telegraph further reports that the RSPB submission to UK government-commissioned review of tidal lagoon industry states the design of future tidal lagoons should be based on the knowledge gained from the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon construction and operation, if given a go-ahead by the UK government.

The results of the review, led by the UK’s former energy minister Charles Hendry, will be revealed this Thursday, January 12, 2017, and are reportedly in favor of the construction of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

The developer behind the lagoon, Tidal Lagoon Power, is currently engaged in talks with the UK government regarding the subsidies for the project, and the results of the review could shape the UK government’s response.

However, the RSPB plans to object to the construction of a larger, 2.7GW tidal lagoon planned for Cardiff, until the proper assessment on the impacts is conducted, according to The Telegraph.

Another hurdle the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon is facing is that with a marine license. Welsh government’s body in charge of the issuing the license, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) may withhold it as the regulator disagrees with Tidal Lagoon Power’s projected numbers of potential fish deaths caused by the lagoon.

On the other hand, more than 20 industrial companies, including Sheffield Forgemasters and General Electric, have called the UK government to support the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon in a letter sent to Financial Times, as it would have major benefits for local jobs and supply chain.

If constructed, the 320MW Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, considered to be a ‘pathfinder’ for the tidal lagoon industry, could provide power to around 155,000 Welsh households.