TLSB Active Supporters Group, Gower, Wales & UK
"My name is Alan Glass, and as Chairman of the Active Supporters Group (ASG) for Gower, Wales and UK, I am making a representation in favour of the proposed Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay project on behalf of this group.
There are three supporters groups clustered around Swansea Bay. My group is for those without a direct view of the proposed tidal power station. Some, like myself, live nearby within the City and County of Swansea, and so view this as a local scheme that we will drive past frequently when it is built. Others are elsewhere in Wales, and still others live throughout the UK and are just keen to do a little to support such an innovative and exciting scheme: a world first, and something that will hopefully be quickly replicated in other parts of the UK and around the world where the right tidal conditions permit.
We are experiencing climate change through global warming. How much this is due to fossil fuel emission will long be debated by scientists. However, rightly, most countries are signed up to reduce CO2 emissions, and as a result the UK government is decommissioning coal, oil and gas burning power stations, but as new power stations are not being built at the same rate, we face a power deficit shortly. There is talk of power rationing to industry, which is an appalling prospect as we must support whatever manufacturing capacity will still have, or it will disappear abroad. Wind and solar PV technology offer potential, but they are visually contentious, without grant aid their viability is questionable, and they are not guaranteed to produce power when it is required. We have the second highest tidal range in the world on our doorstep, and the timing and depth of tides can be predicted thousands of years ahead, so it is predictable and reliable.
I have had the opportunity to visit La Rance, the world’s first tidal power station (partially damming a river), opened in 1966. Without subsidy, it has long ago been paid for, and it produces power at a very low cost, as well as forming a road-bridge. Some of the original turbines have had a major overhaul, and the others are yet to be done, after nearly 50 years. Local ecology is largely unaffected, and the subtle changes are mainly regarded as positive. Some of this is not relevant to TLSB, but I can foresee nothing but spin-off benefits arising from this proposed scheme, including improved shore protection from wave damage in winters like we have just experienced, multiple leisure opportunities, a boost to local jobs and tourism, mariculture; synergy with the new science park for Swansea University, and possibly reduced electricity bills locally.
Many harbours have break-walls, so this construction will not look out of context, and it will not be highly visible as it will barely project above a high spring tide. In part, it should assist vessels using Swansea Docks by defining the dredged channel. In spite of being so low-key, and offering so many spin-off benefits, this will be primarily a power-station using totally sustainable natural power.
Because the members of my active supporters group do not look directly onto Swansea Bay, it is fair to say that “Nimbyism” does not govern our thinking. Some of us are close enough geographically to welcome the benefits it will bring to the local economy. It is fair to say that we are all united in a belief that this is a project that is as close to ideal as possible in harnessing the powers of nature in a fully sustainable manner, as well as helping the UK government to meet CO2 emission targets.
For the sake of UK climate obligations, this exciting project must be brought to fruition quickly. In the past, Wales could be regarded as a “dumping ground” for dirty industry that others did not want, but I sense that this innovative technology will be widely welcomed locally, as being unobtrusive and helping put Wales in the vanguard of new technology.