Anglesey tidal energy project receives ministerial support

Wales’s climate change minister Julie James sent a letter to developer Menter Môn saying she was “minded” to grant planning permission to the £30m renewable energy project.

The Morlais tidal energy project has been in the works since 2013. Menter Môn secured a 45-year Crown Estate lease for the 35 sq km seabed site in 2014. Public inquiries on the scheme were held in 2019.

Decisions are expected later this year on the scheme’s Transport and Works Act Order application as well as on its marine license application to Natural Resources Wales.

James, who was responding to the Transport and Works Act Order application, said her approval of the scheme would depend on Menter Môn being able to satisfy conditions from the planning inspectorate.

Morlais director John Idris Jones welcomed James’s words, saying her letter “brings us a step closer to ensuring the scheme becomes a reality”.

“We acknowledge that we have further work to do to satisfy the conditions set out by the planning inspectorate,” Jones said. “We will now move forward to ensure we can take the necessary action to secure final consent.”

If successful, Morlais would see a bay on the western coast of Holy Island, known as Abraham’s Bosom, become a prime source of renewable energy for Wales. The tidal energy plant is expected to eventually deliver up to 240MW, which is enough to power 180,000 traditional Welsh households according to Menter Môn.

Morlais would generate energy by using special devices that use the naturally occurring currents from the changing tides to create electricity. Tidal energy is considered to be both reliable and dependable, in addition to being a low-carbon way of creating energy.

Jones said that Morlais would not only help reduce the amount of carbon used to create energy, but would also help the community around Anglesey

“From day one our aim has been to make sure that this project brings local benefits in terms of the environment, jobs, training and supply chain opportunities,” Jones said. “Morlais is owned and run locally by Menter Môn – this means we will ensure those benefits come back into local communities.

“Importantly tidal energy is low carbon, it is clean and reliable – our aim through this development is to play our part in tackling climate change to ensure we leave behind a legacy we can be proud of.”

Construction of the project will happen in phases if planning approval is granted. If the proper permissions are awarded, work could begin on land in 2021 and offshore work could start in 2023.

WSP is the planning consultant on the project.

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