The UK government yesterday rejected plans to build the world’s first tidal power lagoon in Swansea Bay. Hours later parliament then voted in a huge majority to approve plans to build a third runway at Heathrow airport.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said that the tidal lagoon, which was expected to cost £1.3 billion, was not value for money. Developers, Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP), rejected these claims and stated that a revised lower price had been offered to the government.
With the scheme having a £200 million backing from the Welsh Government and claims that the project would supply reliable and sustainable energy to up to 155,000 properties in Wales, the decision has prompted a furious reaction from politicians and residents alike.
News that the planned tidal lagoon had been shelved was announced on the same day that 415 MPs backed the controversial plans to build a third runway at Heathrow airport. Campaigners against the airport expansion say that an increase in aircraft emissions will break the UK’s climate change targets. The expansion will also increase noise pollution across South East England and up to 800 homes may be demolished to make way for the additional runway.
Recent research has also shown that the airport expansion will mainly benefit an ‘elite group’ of frequent fliers. The reports also take a stand against the government, stating that the third runway would be unlikely to benefit the whole of the UK, as previously suggested.
Ministers were also accused of ‘fixing’ the decision on Heathrow airport, staging the vote three days before The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report is published. The report is expected to inform the public that for the UK to meet its CO2 emission targets, homeowners and businesses may have to sacrifice appliances such as gas cookers and central heating boilers, in addition to petrol vehicles. This is due to the huge increase in other emissions, a large portion of this being from the aviation industry.
This morning it was announced that a cross party group of London councils, in partnership with Greenpeace UK would commence a legal challenge against the airport expansion.
The announcement of a massive cut in investment for emerging renewable energy technologies the same day as granting plans for a huge increase in air travel will surely have a long-lasting impact on the UK’s environment. Questions must be answered by the government on how a third runway at Heathrow, which is expected to increase take offs and landings each year by 54%, will affect the UK’s legal commitments to the Paris agreement. The UK government must also offer an explanation on how they are going to put their election promises towards clean, green, renewable energy into action.