The government’s decision yesterday (June 25) to scrap the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project is a “short-sighted jobs killer” and must be reversed, Unite said.
The decision to pull the plug on the programme, which would have been the first ‘green energy’ tidal power scheme in the UK, will deprive the Welsh economy of a £500m boost and 2,000 jobs.
Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said the £1.3bn project did not offer value for money – a claim Unite, Labour and the Welsh government refuted.
As well as depriving the UK of a renewable energy source, the move throws into doubt the future of Britain’s turbine engineering capacity at GE Power Conversion Ltd’s Midlands’ sites – where the project’s turbines would have been made – and could result in hundreds of highly skilled jobs potentially being lost.
Unite said not progressing with the tidal lagoon could mean that the UK will lose the ability to build similar turbines in the future to countries such as France.
The project had found significant cross-party support in Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, with the Welsh government pledging £200m for the scheme.
First Minister of Wales, Labour’s Carwyn Jones said the Welsh government had recognised the transformational potential of the tidal lagoon from “day one”.
He said, “Sadly, the UK government’s short-sightedness and complete lack of ambition has thwarted this project, which could have positioned the UK as a world leader in a new global industry.”
Unite Wales deputy secretary Gareth Jones called the decision to pull the plug on the tidal lagoon a “short-sighted job killer” that would have severe ramifications for the Welsh economy and the wider UK manufacturing and construction sectors.
Calling for the decision to be reversed, Jones said, “Not backing the tidal bay lagoon denies Wales the opportunity of being at the forefront of green energy innovation, while at the same jeopardises hundreds of jobs in turbine production at GE at its sites in the Midlands.”
“This is a project which would give Wales an opportunity to build a new industry based upon its unique tidal resource. Instead of securing a source of green energy for the next 120 years, the government has turned its back on Wales and made a mockery of its industrial strategy.”
Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the Tories had failed to make the right choice for the economy, the Welsh people and “the future of our planet”.
She added, “Thousands of workers will now miss out on high-quality employment and thousands of households will miss out on the benefits of zero-carbon energy.
“The next Labour government will back low-carbon projects like the Swansea tidal lagoon, supporting manufacturing, creating jobs and working to meet our climate targets.”