Tidal lagoon developments must 'maintain the highest possible standards of environmental sustainability'.
The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon was granted planning consent in June 2015.
The Wildlife Trusts believe that this project could be beneficial if managed properly.
Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts said:
“We support the Government’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to tackle climate change and increase the proportion of energy generated from renewable sources. Whilst renewable energy projects could be seen to be helping to tackle climate change, they are still developments with potentially adverse impacts on wildlife, a carbon footprint of their own and associated costs. It is important that all elements of the development stack up. Hence we strongly believe in ‘right technology, right place’.”
The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon should be seen as a test case for a new type of development, in which there is still uncertainty about the environmental impacts, as much of the impact assessment work was based on modelling. Wildlife Trusts Wales want to see the proposed mitigation strictly adhered to, and we believe that monitoring should be carried out over a number of years before any other lagoons are built. Swansea is a far smaller development than other tidal lagoons proposed in the Severn Estuary. The proposed lagoons at Cardiff, Newport and Bridgwater Bay are in areas that have multiple European conservation designations. Therefore any environmental impacts are likely to be on a far greater scale and we are concerned about plans to develop these lagoons without first learning lessons from the development in Swansea Bay.
Wildlife Trusts Wales shares the strong concern of others over the sourcing of rock for the Swansea lagoon. We are especially concerned over the proposed developments elsewhere in the Severn Estuary. Developments in renewable energy are encouraging. But it is vital that such developments maintain the highest possible standards of environmental sustainability if their full benefits are to be realised. Impacts on intertidal habitats and species in biodiversity hotspots such as the Severn Estuary are not to be taken lightly. The sensitivity of this landscape requires rigorous and robust scientific assessment. To run straight through from the Swansea Lagoon to a rushed approval of the other planned lagoons is potentially counterproductive and could cause permanent damage to this sensitive area.
Ian Rappel, CEO Gwent Wildlife Trust who work alongside Wildlife Trusts Wales, said:
“Gwent Wildlife Trust will be working hard with all concerned, including our neighbouring Wildlife Trusts, to establish the highest possible levels of scientific rigour and diligence. We simply cannot allow sustainable development to become a contradiction in terms.”