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Lagoon could power Wales' first zero-carbon city.

Byline: Robin Turner Reporter robin.turner@walesonline.co.uk

Aplanned PS1bn tidal lagoon could make Swansea Wales' first zero-carbon city, according to backers - but there are warnings of its impact on wildlife.

The UK Government has given planning approval for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, with Pippa Bartolotti, leader of Wales Green Party, predicting the city would become carbon neutral as a result.

She also raised the prospect of Swansea becoming a destination for "environmental tourism".

But, some campaigners are concerned that the lagoon could affect the area's harbour porpoises and migratory fish.

Ms Bartolotti said: "It will be a terrific draw to the area. Environmental tourism is in its infancy, and Swansea will reap significant financial benefits if this project goes ahead.

"Yes we need to concern ourselves with all local environmental impacts, but this must be in the context of chronic overfishing of the seas, and the harmful greenhouse gas emissions gushing out from dirty power stations.

"Low carbon energy is the only way forward, and this is why lagoons make so much sense. Swansea will be well on the way to being Wales' first zero-carbon city."

Juliet Davenport, chief executive of one of the first investors in the scheme - renewable electricity firm Good Energy - said: "This is a truly visionary project, providing excellent opportunities for the UK to diversify its sources of renewable electricity and become more energy secure."

Although Energy Secretary Amber Rudd upheld the recommendations of the planning inspectorate to grant approval, it has yet to receive a marine consent license from National Resources Wales. That means it must answer environmental concerns over marine animals plus migration of sand and silt.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust and campaign group Fish Legal said there was a lot of uncertainty about the impact of generating power from tidal lagoons on fish. He said there could be significant damage to local and regional populations of fish already under threat like bass, flounder, cod, eels, lamprey, shad, salmon and sea trout.

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay director of construction, Andrew McNaughton said the company had worked for several years with independent experts on the environmental impact of the lagoon and said the impact on migrating fish would be manageable and "minimal".

Brian Saunders of the Porthcawl Environment Trust said the group would formally complain to the European Union if Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay was granted a marine licence without also getting a European Marine Species licence ensuring piling work would not harm harbour porpoises in Swansea Bay.

A spokesman for Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay said: "We undertook a Shadow Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) for harbour porpoise, despite this not being a legal requirement as Swansea Bay is not designated under the Habitats Directive for harbour porpoise."

More: Business, page 22

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An artist's impression of what the world's first tidal lagoon power plant may look like in Swansea Bay

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 11, 2015
Words:483
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