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Matter which the Chairman has decided is urgent to ensure Members have the views of the Cabinet in a timely manner

 

Agenda Item No.

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

PLANNING COMMITTEE: 20th DECEMBER, 2012

 

REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 17th DECEMBER, 2012.

 

 

C1948                        SEVERN BARRAGE CONSULTATION (RIPT) (SCRUTINY - ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -

 

Councillor Stuart Egan, withdrew from the meeting as he had been party to discussions on this matter at Barry Town Council.

 

Councillor Burnett commented that this issue was discussed at a Penarth Town Council meeting but she left the meeting prior to this being discussed by the Town Council and was not therefore party to any discussion that took place.

 

The report apprised Cabinet of the Commons Select Committee's recent public consultation on the potential for a privately financed Severn Barrage.

 

A previous report of the Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration on the 22nd April 2009 (Minute No C425), advised Cabinet of the Phase One Consultation into the feasibility of tidal power within the Severn Estuary undertaken by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in partnership with the Welsh Government (WG) and the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA). That report set out the chronology that had led to the Phase One consultation and provided a synopsis of the range of proposals that were being considered by the UK Government to provide renewable energy from the Severn Estuary.

 

The report outlined the concerns of the Vale of Glamorgan Council with regard to the work of the feasibility study to date, and was forwarded to the Department of Energy and Climate Change as this was Council's response to the Phase One consultation. The government published its response to the consultation on the 15th July 2009 alongside its Renewable Energy Strategy and the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, two complementary documents that set out how the government propose to deliver 15% of the UK's energy from renewable sources by 2020 and a reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 to meet the first three UK carbon budgets.

 

In October 2010, the Government published the findings of the feasibility study and consultation into Severn tidal power and concluded that of all the schemes investigated, despite its high capital cost of approximately £34 billion; the Cardiff to Weston barrage scheme offered the best value for money.  It was noted that the terminology relating to Cardiff-Weston, is Government terminology, and should more accurately refer to Lavernock. 

 

Recent reports suggested that private financing for a Severn Barrage could now be available but only if it was supported by the proposed Contracts for Difference Mechanism i.e. long-term instruments that provide stable and predictable incentives for companies to invest in low-carbon energy generation schemes.

 

In response to the privately financed proposals, the UK Government had established a Commons Select Committee to investigate the proposed Cardiff to Weston Barrage. The Committee will examine the potential for the project to deliver low-carbon electricity to the UK and the likely cost to consumers as well as the potential impacts on wildlife and local employment.

 

In response to the previous consultation exercise, the Council was satisfied that the work undertaken to assess and potentially develop tidal power in the Severn Estuary was thorough and dealt with all of the relevant material considerations and the principle of maximising the opportunity through the promotion of a Cardiff (Lavernock/Penarth) to Weston barrage was generally supported. However there were a number of factors that required more detailed consideration and assessment which were more specific to the Vale of Glamorgan. It was noted that a copy of the report had already been submitted to the Commons Select Committee to meet the deadline of 30th November 2012, with a statement that any additional comments that Cabinet may wish to make would be forwarded separately after the closing date. The specific areas of concern were summarised below:

 

·         The construction phase - concerns are expressed over the need to transport and accommodate materials and the impact upon the local highway network was of concern. The Council would work closely with DECC and the WG to ensure that environmental impact in this area was minimised.

 

·         The economic benefits - the scheme should not be understated given the employment benefits both during construction and beyond during operation. The scheme also had the potential to generate a significant level of tourism and educational interest

 

·         Renewable power by a tidal barrage - The Council welcomed the intention to investigate the potential impact of a tidal power scheme on the energy market, electricity network/grid and in particular the local environment.

 

·         Implications for the port of Barry - In this regard the port of Barry would be the closest port on the seaward side of the barrage and there needed to be a careful assessment of the implications for the port not only during the construction phases of any barrage, but also longer term.

 

·         Tourism benefits - while accepting that this scheme could have tourism benefits in its own right, concerns were expressed as to the impact that such a scheme would have on the wider tourism resource within the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

·         Landfall issues - Welsh side at Lavernock Point in the Vale of Glamorgan and should be referred to in the future as either the Lavernock to Weston barrage or by reference to the closest major town, the Penarth or Barry to Weston barrage not Cardiff as currently the case. 

 

·         The ecological impacts - it was acknowledged that considerable work would be required on the impacts on habitats, ecology and biodiversity.

 

·         The visual impact of a project - scale would be significant and extend over a wide area. Issues of detailed design would therefore be critical given the potential impact on this part of the rural Vale of Glamorgan and indeed the wider region.

 

·         Access to the site - is a clear need to improve access arrangements to the site not only in the immediate locality but also from the M4 motorway and other parts of the strategic highway network. Such impacts must be delivered as an integral part of such a scheme.

 

·         In progressing the second phase of the Severn Tidal Power feasibility study this Council considered it essential that full and detailed contact is maintained with those local authorities that might be affected by the development of a Severn Tidal power scheme such as the Cardiff (Lavernock/Penarth) to Weston barrage.

 

Whilst the delivery mechanism for the provision of a Severn Barrage may have changed, the resultant impacts of a Cardiff (Lavernock/Penarth) to Weston barrage proposal remained the same and it was considered that in the absence of more detailed and scheme specific information that the comments above should be submitted in response to the current Commons Select Committee consultation.

 

Councillor Burnett commented that the consultation period was too short, however, a draft response was drawn up and circulated as widely as possible in order to gain as many comments as possible.

 

At the meeting, a letter from Penarth Town Council was also tabled outlining their request to be involved in the consultation process as it developed.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted and that it be further noted that a draft response has already been issued to the UK Government with a caveat that further comments might be submitted this meeting.

 

(2)       T H A T the concerns set out in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the report as the Council's formal response to the Commons Select Committee consultation be endorsed.

 

(3)       T H A T in responding, the Select Committee is asked to recognise the need to accurately refer to the project for a Severn Barrage as having potential landfall at Lavernock Point, in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

(4)       T H A T the report be referred to Planning Committee and Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee for information.

 

(5)       T H A T a link to the report highlighting the Council’s response to the consultation by the UK Government Select Committee be put on the home page of the Council’s website.

 

(6)       T H A T the approved report, including all the responses to the consultation undertaken by the Council in responding to the UK Select Committee, be forwarded to the U.K. Government.

 

Reasons for Decisions

 

(1)       To advise Cabinet of the Commons Select Committee Severn Barrage consultation.

 

(2)       To obtain Cabinet's endorsement of the response submitted to the Commons Select Committee in respect of the consultation on the Severn Barrage.

 

(3)       In order to ensure accuracy and clarity when referring to the project.

 

(4)       To advise Planning Committee and the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee of the recent public consultation.

 

(5)       In order to highlight the Council’s response to consultation on this important topic.

 

(6)       To ensure an up to date response is issued to the Commons Select Committee, which response includes all comments made as a result of the Council’s own consultation exercise.

 

 

Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 17th December, 2012.

 

 

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