Some rare good news from the eco wars: it looks increasingly likely that a lunatic green project to build a £1 billion tidal lagoon across Swansea Bay in South Wales is going to be scrapped.
Or so reckons Christopher Booker who has been on its case from the start.
If it still goes ahead, the Swansea Tidal Lagoon (pictured) will produce the world’s most expensive electricity – at a massively taxpayer-subsidised £168 per megawatt hour: over three times the going rate – while changing forever the character of the bay and causing all manner of disruption to the local wildlife.
But hey, as the saying goes, “You can’t make a green omelette without killing lots of eels, fish and wading birds, ruining the view, and enriching a small cabal of crony capitalists at everyone else’s expense.”
Apart from its eye-watering cost and utter pointlessness (for the same price you could build a gas-fired power station producing 35 times as much as electricity, at a third of the cost, with no subsidy), quite the most disturbing aspect of this project is the unseemly haste with which the government has attempted to steamroll it through the system.
Prime Minister David Cameron – who, like his role-model Tony Blair, loves an “eye-catching initiative” – was initially very enthusiastic. So much so that he had it written into the Conservatives’ election manifesto and then rushed through the planning system.
And why not? As every idiot who knows nothing whatsoever about renewable energy knows, tidal power is totally great because the sea is all wavey and powerful with, like, loads of untapped energy which could be harnessed for free, probably…
Meanwhile in the real world, thank God, there remain one or two hard-headed people who can tell when the Emperor is wearing no clothes.
One of them, as Booker reports, is Mr Justice Dove in the High Court who ruled over Christmas that a key element in the plan – the re-opening of a quarry in Cornwall, from which 1.5 million tonnes of rock would be dug every year to build the Lagoon’s six-mile breakwater – had been given illegal consent by Cornwall council. There were several sites of natural interest in the quarry area but the council’s planner had not thought to conduct an environmental assessment for any of them. By strange coincidence it emerged that this same planning officer had been responsible for waving through two deeply unpopular and controversial wind farms with which, unfortunately, the poor county of Cornwall is now littered.
Imagine, though, if the local campaign group Cornwall Against Dean Super Quarry had been less committed, or if they hadn’t been able to raise the considerable amount of money needed to fund a judicial review like the one that overturned that planning officer’s noisome — and likely ideologically green-motivated — illegal decision.
What’s so terrifying about the environmental movement is that though its most zealous adherents are few in number they punch far above their weight because they’ve infiltrated all the most influential positions: in local council planning departments, on the planning inspectorate, at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, at the European Union drafting ever more stringent and intrusive directives…
You’d expect a properly Conservative government to oppose this nonsense. But that would be to mistake David Cameron and his cronies — such as his Environment Secretary Amber Rudd — for proper conservatives.