Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon

Marine License application from Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) ORDML145

Our role is to determine Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Plc’s Marine Licence application.

Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Plc’s project proposes building a 9.5 km long sea wall in Swansea Bay, between the Rivers Tawe and Neath, connecting Swansea Docks to the west and the new Swansea University Science and Innovation Campus to the east.

This will house an electricity generating station as well as a visitor centre and educational and sporting facilities.  

But before it can be built, the scheme will need a marine licence from NRW. Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Plc applied for a marine licence in February 2014, in addition to applying for other consents required from other regulators.

NRW’s Role in determining the Marine Licence Application 

Our role is to examine Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) Plc’s Marine Licence application. This covers aspects of the project for works required to be undertaken within the marine environment and tidal areas (area which falls seaward Mean High Water Springs) and to decide whether to issue a licence or refuse the application. The steps we follow when deciding whether to grant or refuse a licence are defined by legal requirements.  

In considering whether to issue a licence, we must take into consideration the need to protect human health, the environment and the need to ensure that the proposal does not interfere with legitimate uses of the sea.  We make this determination based upon the best available evidence submitted in support of the application and submitted to us through the consultation process.

We are required to justify this decision within the confines of these legal limitations. For example, it would not be appropriate for us to refuse the licence simply because there was local opposition to the activity being carried out at this location.

Consultation

We work with a number of organisations and expert bodies to seek their views on protecting human health, the environment and potential interference with legitimate uses of the sea. These include but are not limited to:

  • Various departments of Natural Resources Wales
  • Various departments of Welsh Government (including fisheries and energy departments)
  • Royal Yachting Association
  • Swansea and Neath Harbour Authorities
  • Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
  • City and County of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot Local Authorities
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency
  • Trinity House

In addition, we continue to consult the Centre for Environment Fisheries Aquaculture Science (Cefas) to provide us with independent expert advice regarding the potential impacts the scheme may have on fish.

Each of these expert bodies would comment on their area of knowledge or responsibility. For example, we will ask the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to comment on potential interference with other sea uses such as shipping and safe navigation. We will work closely with all consultees to address any concerns and take their expert advice into account when making our decision.

In addition to consulting with organisations and public bodies, we have also consulted with the public, to help us to take account of views that we might not otherwise be aware of.

The applicant submitted additional modelling evidence on 30 June 2017. We have consulted on this evidence with a number of experts including those at Cefas, Natural England, Environment Agency and NRW and sought the views of other Interested Parties that had previously commented on the potential impacts to fish. The final set of parameters was agreed and NRW instructed the applicant on 04 June 2019 to produce their final fish impact models.

On 10 January 2020 TLSB submitted a set of fish impact models. The overall fish model is formed by two specific models assessing the probability of encountering the lagoon (ADZ model) and the probability of injury (Striker v5™ model) during passage through the turbines. These two models have been scrutinised by our technical advisors Cefas to validate their construction. On 14 December 2020 we informed the applicant that the totality of the fish models were considered validated.

Current steps

The applicant will now run the overall fish model to inform the predicted impacts to fish to be used in our determination. These impact figures will then be used to inform our Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) and Water Framework Directive (WFD) assessments and the shadow assessments from the applicant.

Next steps

This is a particularly complex application, and we continue to assess the expert information we have received to help us make our decision. Once we are satisfied that we have fully assessed all the relevant information, we will undertake a further public consultation.

Other consents and competing developments

The marine licencing process is an independent regulatory process. The decision made is not dependent upon the outcome of another decision maker. In making our assessments for a marine licence determination, we have regard to whether other permissions are unlikely to be forthcoming.

In addition to requiring a marine licence, this project requires consents and permissions from others, for example, a licence from The Crown Estate and a Development Consent Order from the UK Government Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth.

In line with the Welsh National Marine Plan, co-location is an important consideration for coastal and marine developments. In situations involving competing applications with overlapping spatial footprints (where it is not possible to co-locate), NRW cannot refuse or decline to determine an application for a marine licence on the basis it is identical or substantially the same as an existing application.

It is, therefore, possible for multiple applications at the same location to be received and considered simultaneously by NRW. In the event that a marine licence is favourably determined in a specific location, the legislation governing marine licensing does not preclude NRW from continuing to determine another licence application in the same location.

However, NRW is legally required to assess whether the activity would interfere with another legitimate user of the sea. A significant factor in this assessment would be whether either project had obtained an agreement for lease from the Crown Estate.

Last updated 31 March 2021