Monday, June 25, 2018

A TIDAL LETDOWN


Westminster’s decision to reject the Swansea Bay Tidal lagoon (and the broken promise over electrification of the min line to Swansea from Cardiff amongst others) is to say the least disappointing. That said it is simply a very visible symptom of the Westminster Parliament and most Westminster parliamentarians (with a few honourable exceptions) lack of any real concern for Wales and our national interests. 

Let’s be honest with ourselves for once, Westminster is quite simply not interested in making Wales thrive, or allowing Wales to become a world-beater in the development of renewable energy technologies and to generate the technologies and jobs that go with it. As I have said previously I have long believed that Westminster government’s regardless of their political hue, before and after devolution, and before and no doubt after BREXIT, remains fundamentally indifferent to our needs, our aspirations and our national interests.  

Nothing to see here - move alone! 

It is worth remembering that every single party represented in the National Assembly backed the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and yet, Westminster has told us it’s not going to happen. In the 1980’s and 1990’s decisions made in Westminster, were largely made by Governments that the people of Wales did not vote for or endorse yet were imposed on our country. Now, even with devolution, things should be different, yet now decisions made by our embryonic national parliament can be so easily wilfully overruled by a Westminster government over the border, for whom the people of Wales did not vote for.

Our coastline and our maritime and energy resources will remain a largely untapped resource for the foreseeable future. The prototype tidal lagoon would have been a first step towards making Wales a world leader in a new and innovative technology with the potential to power our future. Not to mention the potential to create renewable and sustainable non nuclear energy supply that would not be deponent on imported oil and gas from the unstable Middle East and the Persian gulf. 

Westminster is consistently refusing to invest to create well-paid jobs in Wales, while at the same time threatening the ones which already exist, through its irresponsible stance on Brexit. The decision to pull the plug on the Tidal lagoon is a perfect demonstration of why Wales needs to gain greater control over its own future. We can no longer not afford the luxury of Westminster continuing to hold back our country’s potential for developing sustainable energy sector and the related skills that could make our country a world leader. 

The years of foot-dragging over the fate of the Swansea Tidal lagoon should not have been unexpected, particularly from a Westminster system that remains hooked on expensive subsidies to foreign owned and foreign constructed Nuclear power stations. One reason for this is that it is perhaps easier for former energy minsters to get better paid jobs post their involvement in politics, with subsidy rich energy companies.

Interest in developing Tidal lagoons is not new; the concept has been floated around in Wales since the late 1990’s. It is worth remembering that Labour were in power from 1997 until 2010 and did nothing. The problem was that successive private companies when faced with sluggish perhaps finely calculated indifference from both government (at all levels) and the civil service have moved on or lost interest. 

Post BREXIT Wales needs the Tidal lagoons more than ever, if Westminster is serious about reducing the UK’s dependence on imported energy supplies from unstable regions, run by brutal repressive regimes – then developing Tidal lagoons could be a step towards real energy independence. So rather than watching the Westminster politicians marshal their lame tired old excuses as to why they cold not or would not buy in to the project, we need to devolve the powers related to energy generation from Westminster to Wales.

The full devolution of powers relating to energy resource development to Wales and also a Welsh government that is not sleeping walking on the job are an absolute necessity. Post BREXIT we need to step away from our low wage culture and to develop a much more economically dynamic and sustainable Welsh economy.  We are not going to get anything done with a Labour in Wales government in Cardiff Bay that’s too busy looking after its own personal and party political interests rather than our national interests.

1 comment: