Wales politics

Swansea tidal lagoon: Rebecca Long-Bailey urges go ahead

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Media captionWatch a video animation of Tidal Lagoon Power's project

The UK government must "get moving" on the £1.3bn Swansea tidal lagoon energy project, the Labour party has said.

The UK government is still considering the recommendations of an independent review, which reported two months ago.

Shadow energy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey visited the proposed site with the developers on Thursday.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said the lagoon was "virtually over the line".

A UK government spokesman said it would need a period of time to determine what is in the best interest of the UK energy consumer and taxpayer.

Ms Long-Bailey said ministers must "press ahead" with agreeing a minimum price for the energy, known as the "strike price".

She did not say what she thinks the price should be but said it had to be "competitive".

Image caption Rebecca Long-Bailey took a trip out in Swansea Bay on Thursday

In January, a UK government-commissioned report by former energy minister Charles Hendry backed the technology.

Mr Hendry said it could make a "strong contribution" to the UK's energy supply and said it was cost-effective and would bring "significant economic opportunity".

If the project is given UK government backing, it would also need a marine licence from Natural Resources Wales.

It has received cross-party political support from AMs and MPs.

But there is opposition from angling and conservation groups who are concerned about the impact on fish and other wildlife.

If the project is to go ahead it will require the UK government to agree the "strike price", which will guarantee how much the company will receive for the energy generated.

Image copyright TLP

Analysis by Sarah Dickins, BBC Wales economics correspondent

It is now two months since the Hendry Review recommended that Swansea lagoon should go ahead as a test for this new tidal energy technology.

Tidal Lagoon Power has been working on its proposals for four years now and had hoped it would not have to wait too many weeks for a response from the UK government.

The project, with investors standing by, has already been delayed while the review ran its course.

To start work out at sea in March 2018, as planned, the developers need to get complicated financial and legal agreements finalised, as well as the marine licence and guaranteed price agreed.

If a decision is delayed until after local elections in May, it could seriously jeopardise that timetable.

Tidal Lagoon Power, the company behind the project, said it was "looking forward to a decision from the UK government".

Ms Long-Bailey said: "This has been kicked in the long grass for some time now. They really need to get moving.

"The work has been done. Everything is ready to go.

"They just need to press ahead with agreeing the strike price and get this project off the ground so Swansea and the wider UK supply chain can start seeing the benefits in terms of manufacturing and in terms of tourism.

"It has to be a competitive strike price that sees a return for the investor but doesn't put the consumer out of pocket."

A spokesman for the UK government's department of business energy and industrial strategy, said it was still considering the recommendations in the Hendry Review and the wider programme.

"Government will require a period of time to assess the merits of such a programme and determine what is in the best interest of the UK energy consumer and taxpayer in the long term, and will publish its response to the Hendry Review in due course," he said.

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