Photo: Morlais Demonstration Zone (Courtesy of Menter Môn)

Public inquiry into Morlais tidal demonstration zone begins

A public planning inquiry into the Anglesey tidal stream energy project has been launched as part of the process to secure the permission for the scheme.

A photo of the proposed Morlais Demonstration Zone (Courtesy of Menter Môn)
Morlais Demonstration Zone (Courtesy of Menter Môn)

The project, known as the Morlais Demonstration Zone, was designated for tidal energy development by the Crown Estate in 2013.

Menter Môn secured the lease to manage the zone a year later. It is one of several sites identified by the Crown Estate across the UK in order to develop the tidal energy sector.

In order to get consent to develop and operate the Morlais Demonstration Zone, Menter Môn has applied to Welsh government.

Also, an application has been made to Natural Resources Wales Marine Licensing Team for a marine licence.

The consent application was submitted in September 2019, and both processes will run in parallel with each other. The public inquiry forms part of this process, according to Menter Môn.

The Morlais Demonstration Zone is planned to provide a consented area for the installation and commercial demonstration of multiple arrays of tidal energy devices, to a maximum installed capacity of 240MW.

The project would also develop communal infrastructure through the provision of electrical infrastructure, including substations and onshore electrical cable route to grid connection.

It would also provide the supporting electrical infrastructure to connect tidal energy converters within the demonstration zone, and export the electricity generated to grid.

As the public inquiry into the Anglesey tidal stream energy development begins, Dafydd Gruffydd, Managing Director of Menter Môn, emphasized the potential benefits of the project to the island and wider north Wales region.

Gruffydd said: “Ensuring local benefit is the driver for all our project, Morlais is no different. Independent studies and our own research suggest that the development could deliver at least 100 new jobs in the first ten years with many more in the supply chain across north Wales.

This is the first time a social enterprise – Menter Môn – has made an application for a project of this scale. Morlais has the potential to scale up over time to provide enough power for around 180,000 typical households.

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“Economic benefits don’t end there, and we’re committed to working with the education sector locally to improve skills and to make sure developers commit to creating apprenticeships both during construction and operation. Helping to create opportunities for young people to live and work locally is important to us at Menter Môn, and Morlais can certainly play a part in ensuring that we live up to this.

“But the benefits aren’t just economic. Now more than ever we have to consider our impact on the planet and the environment. Both Westminster and Welsh governments have made it clear that carbon reduction is a priority. Tidal energy is low carbon, clean and reliable – our aim through Morlais is to play our part in tackling climate change and ensuring we leave a legacy that we’re proud of”, Gruffydd said.

Following the public enquiry, a decision is anticipated by Welsh Ministers on the proposals next summer. If all the necessary consents are given, construction on and operation will happen in phases.

Work on land is expected to take place in 2021, with work offshore to start in 2023, according to Menter Môn.

The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and has also secured funding for consent and development from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Isle of Anglesey County Council.