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MPs to probe Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon decisions

MPs have announced an inquiry into the decision-making process behind the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

A joint inquiry from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee and the Welsh Affairs Committee will investigate delays and obstacles in the decision-making process for the £1.2bn project.

The committee said it will look at the reasons behind the government’s failure to reach a decision on supporting the Lagoon by questioning stakeholders and ministers from the Welsh and UK governments.

BEIS committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “The Swansea Tidal Lagoon project has been a tale of indecision with the government having dithered over this for five years and still to reply to the Hendry Review, published over a year ago.

“The government’s consistent failure to give a clear indication of whether they will provide taxpayer support has left investors in limbo. In this inquiry, we are keen to explore the decision-making process, to get clarity on the next steps for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, and how government can learn the lessons for future projects of this kind.”

The Lagoon was given the planning green light in June 2015 by the then energy secretary Amber Rudd.

However, the government failed to agree a price for the project and in January 2016 prime minister David Cameron admitted that the inability to agree terms had reduced his enthusiasm for the project.

A review by former energy minister Charles Hendry was commissioned in May 2016 to look into costs. Released at the start of 2017, Mr Hendry’s report called for the government to enter into final negotiations with Tidal Lagoon Power over a strike price to ensure construction of the Lagoon could begin.

Work on the project was expected to start at the beginning of 2016, but has yet to start, with government and developers unable to agree on a contract for difference.

Laing O’Rourke is signed up to a £200m main civil engineering packages on the plant, with the Tarmac-owned Alun Griffiths agreeing to a £25m deal to deliver the public realm ancillary works contract.

In January, the Welsh government promised “a substantial investment” towards the project’s construction costs.

Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones also published a letter to prime minister Theresa May yesterday urging her to give the project the go-ahead, and offering to cover part of the lagoon’s £1.3bn capital costs to speed up the process.

The first of two sessions will take place on 9 May.

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