North Wales tidal lagoon project could create 22,000 jobs


Wrexham’s Glyndwr University has carried out an economic impact assessment on the project, which predicted that the lagoon would generate an additional 22,000 jobs

A £7 billion ($9.19 billion) tidal lagoon could create 22,000 North Wales jobs and generate enough electricity to power every home in Wales, says the person at the helm of a project with the potential to transform the region.

Former High Sheriff of Clwyd Henry Dixon is from a family of bridge builders, but now has his eyes set on the massive lagoon project, which would stretch out between Prestatyn and Llandudno.

Wrexham’s Glyndwr University has carried out an economic impact assessment on the project, which predicted that the lagoon would generate an additional 22,000 jobs. The figure includes the 500 jobs created during the five-year planning stage, the 6,000 or 7,000 at the point of construction, and the many thousands of opportunities predicted to spring up around the lagoon – such as water sports businesses, tourist centres, and even new mussel farms harvested on the rock walls.

While the total cost of the project is around £7 billion ($9.19 billion), North Wales Tidal Energy needs around £50m ($65.62m) to get the project going, largely for environmental impact assessments. Once complete, it is estimated the tidal lagoon could generate around £500m ($656.16m) a year for the next 120 years.

One month ago, Denbighshire councillors voted in favour of a motion to back the scheme in principle, while Conwy Council has set up a task and finish group to look at the options. North Wales Tidal Energy is now lobbying both the Welsh and UK governments for funding.

But the lagoon, if or when it is built, would be considered a National Strategic Infrastructure project, meaning UK Government would have the final say.

Dixon is the chairman of North Wales Tidal Energy, which was set up in 2014.

Dixon said the tidal lagoon project would transform the area – if the company finds the initial £50m ($65.62m) start-up costs.

He said: I think the North Wales Economic Ambition Board is considering adopting it (the project), the way that Denbighshire and Conwy have adopted it, the way that MPs have adopted it. We just need to get the Welsh Government and the British government to help with the funding to get it going.

Once we are up and running, then we can answer all the questions and concerns people have got, and we can get this thing built, which will be truly transformational for North Wales. The lagoon will generate enough electricity for every home in Wales, he said.

In a year, it will generate five tera-watt hours, which is enough for a million homes. I’m not saying it will just be Wales’ electricity, but I’m trying to put it on a scale that will be useful, he said.

But Dixon believes the scheme could attract serious private investment.

There are many institutional funds, sovereign funds, insurance companies, and pension companies who like the idea of an asset like a tidal lagoon that will last for over 100 years and generate a significant amount of revenue because of the energy it is generating, he said.

So there is a real interest in funding that sort of lagoon once we have permission. The difficulty is getting from here to there and finding the first £50m ($65.62m), he said.

Dixon explained the timeline involved to get the lagoon operational.

It would be 10 years. It would be five years to get permission and consent and to do all those environmental studies, the land rights, the marine licence, he said.

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