Meeting told city green scheme could bring in investment
A climate emergency declaration by the Welsh Government will encourage investors to fund projects like the new-look Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, according to a council leader.
Swansea’s Rob Stewart cited ministers’ largely symbolic declaration on the climate during a discussion about the lagoon and wider Dragon Energy Island project proposed for Swansea Bay.
It is early days but Dragon Energy Island would include a tidal lagoon between the Tawe and Neath river channels and potentially a floating island of up to 10,000 houses and shops, a solar farm, and an underwater data centre for tech firms to keep their servers cool.
The proposal was floated in a report commissioned by Swansea Council on behalf of the Swansea Bay City Region. The report will now be forwarded to the Welsh Government.
Councillor Stewart congratulated Cardiff Bay leaders on their recent climate stance during a city deal meeting on May 28.
Referring to Dragon Energy Island, he said: “The declaration will help deliver these sorts of investments.”
The energy island proposal is not currently one of city’s deal’s 11 agreed projects but Councillor Stewart said he would like it to be.
He was asked at the meeting by a health board chairman about the task force input of a businessman, Malcolm Copson, of Hong Kong-based MOI Imagineering.
Andrew Davies, of Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “To what extent has there been due diligence with Mr Copson or anyone else?”
Councillor Stewart said Mr Copson had been referred to the task force via a Member of the House of Lords and that Mr Copson was not an investor.
Councillor Stewart said the task force had “not stepped out of any rules”.
The Swansea Labour leader said he hoped the Welsh Government would, having read the report, allow the council or another body to examine Dragon Energy Island in greater detail with a view to potentially seeking a delivery partner in a year’s time.
Ed Tomp, chairman of the city deal’s economic strategy board, said he was a “very big supporter” of the proposal and that it should be absorbed within the city deal.
“For that [project] to be outside of the city deal does a disservice to the city deal and to the region more generally,” he said.
“As part of due diligence we would make sure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed.”
Also speaking at the meeting was Paul Marsh, of Holistic Capital, who wrote the report outlining the case for Dragon Energy Island.
Mr Marsh confirmed there was an interest among international companies to deliver the project and that the £1.3bn cost of the lagoon element – based on a previous proposal by a company called Tidal Lagoon Power – could be cut by up to 30%.
He said the additional infrastructure proposed would aid the viability of the project and take it away from the “subsidy-only mechanism” which had sunk the previous lagoon proposal.
Jane Davidson, pro vice-chancellor at city deal partners the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, said: “I think we are in as good a position as possible to offer something that in effect doubles the deal.”