Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Written Evidence


Written Evidence from David Evans

ENQUIRY IN WALES

  1.  Congratulation on your appointment as Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee.

  2.  I have, over the last two years, been following the proposal for a tidal lagoon to generate electricity, in Swansea Bay. I have no commercial or financial relationship with either Tidal Electric Ltd. or the Environmental Trust. That could change some time in the future.

  3.  I did ask the Environmental Trust, some months ago, to see if they could arrange a briefing for Welsh MPs, on the project. I understand that you did in fact receive such a briefing.

  4.  More recently Lord and Lady Anderson have asked me to keep them informed and Alan Williams MP has been very helpful. He has in particular obtained information from the National Audit Office, copies of which I have enclosed.

  5.  A full written submission is currently being prepared for your Committee. If will, in large part, be based on the study carried out by Consultants W.S. Atkins, the largest multi disciplined Consultancy in Europe. They were supported by a number of other major Consultants, a list is enclosed.

  6.  I shall not argue the case here, however I would say that the conclusions of the study were that the lagoon system was technically feasible and economically viable. No major obstacles to bulding the lagoon were foreseen and there would appear to be no significant environmental impact. Prior to building, a full and detailed environmental impact study would be undertaken.

  7.  However, I have become deeply concerned about the say that the DTI and WDA seem to have handled the matter. They have been extremely hostile to the concept. Their arguments have been based on work that they have claimed to have done, using their own specialist Consultants, who have advised them that tidal lagoons are not viable. They have claimed that the work was carried out in 2002. This cannot be, given that, the Atkins report, the only detailed and definitive work, was not submitted until September 2004.

  8.  Up until May 2005, the DTI and WDA had refused to reveal the identity of their Consultants. They did however appear at a meeting at the DTI in May of this year. The Consultant representing the WDA is a sole proprietor from North Wales whose speciality is waste water treatment. The DTI used a retired genetleman, who worked on the Severn Barrage project some years ago. Whilst I feel sure that both of these Consultants have great strengths, neither, however, seem to have an technical, commercial or information technology back up. Against this, the team behind the Atkins report have a combined turnover in excess of £3 billion and over 60,000 employees, covering every discipline required, in great depth.

  9.  The two letter from the NAO would seem to suggest that the claimed work have nover in fact been done. Indeed the DTI clearly states in the second letter that they are NOW commissioning a piece of work to assess all the available information. Indeed it was only after Alan Williams asked the NAO for clarification, given the content of their first letter, did the DTI change its position.

  10.  I also enclose an extract from NATT's journal, July-August 2004 issue. Again there is a statement by Andrew Davies AM referring to an in depth appraisal being conducted by the WDA. This was made nearly two months before the Atkins study was submitted! I have already mentioned the Consultant that the WDA used to carry out their assessment. As the meeting in May 2005, he was clearly well out of his depth, he was unable to defend his position against the Atkins team. Neither Consultant produced any actual evidence to support their opinions.

  11.  I find the whole picture very disturbing, particulary given the importance of tidal enery to Wales. We have the second largest tidal range in the World, a source of continuous, predictable and indestructible energy.

  12.  It is evident that the tidal lagoon proposal for Swansea Bay has not been given a fair hearing to date. Statements made seem to have been made on guess or whim and not on proper analysis.

  13.  May I wish you and your Committee good fortune in your deliberations, particulary as the timescales placed upon you seem unusually tight.

1 November 2005





 
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