With the new year come new opportunities and challenges for Anglesey tidal stream project, Morlais run by social enterprise, Menter Môn for the benefit of the island.
The end of 2020 saw some significant milestones for the north Wales project, with a public inquiry getting underway and the announcement that Morlais could be one of the first projects to benefit from North Wales Growth Deal investment.
The next twelve months will be crucial. Once the inquiry closes in February a final decision could come from Welsh Ministers in the summer. If all the necessary consents are given, phased construction could begin before the year is out.
However, the team knows that much work remains to be done – and not wanting to rest on their laurels they are keen to embrace whatever challenges 2021 may bring.
Gerallt Llewelyn Jones is one of the Morlais Directors: “We have come a long way and learnt a lot since we secured the lease for the demonstration zone from Crown Estate back in 2014. But we know that we’re not there yet – so we’re ready for the next phase of making sure Morlais becomes a reality. The news that Morlais could receive £9m from the Growth Deal was a huge boost to our efforts to secure funds – which could mean a further £26m from the Wales European Funding Office.
“Whilst looking ahead we are still firmly focussed on the vision which has been driving the project since day one – to ensure local benefit. This has always been the most important aspect of Morlais and why Menter Môn ventured into the tidal energy sector in the first place. The project has the potential to create at least 100 new jobs in the first ten years, and as with similar schemes, many more in the local supply chain. The area has been hit hard with the departure of several large employers, the decommissioning of the island’s nuclear power station, and the stalling of the Wylfa Newydd project. Morlais offers real opportunity in terms of jobs, investment and training.
“The world is a very different place today compared to when we set out. Even this time last year who could have predicted that many of us would be working from home, attending virtual conferences and even taking part in the first ever on-line public inquiry. The pandemic has affected us all in so many different ways. Importantly, it has made us look more closely at our impact on the planet and how we can take positive steps towards a green recovery. The time is right to push this agenda. We know it’s the right thing to do to tackle climate change and to ensure a positive legacy for future generations.
“Morlais, as part of a growing sector is ready to play its part, with both Westminster and Welsh governments making it clear that carbon reduction is a priority. The climate change narrative has been around for a while – but progress has been slow. Morlais along with its developers, similar projects across the UK and beyond, are well-placed to take action and make the real difference that’s needed.”
With a few weeks to go until the inquiry comes to a close, much work is also being done behind the scenes on practical aspects of the project. Invitations to tender for the civil engineering and direct drilling contracts have been issued and work is ongoing on communications and engagement with stakeholders.
There’s no doubt that the next twelve months are critical for Morlais – with important decisions due. A year from now, as we welcome in 2022, the hope is that initial work on shore will be underway and with this the start of a new journey which will see Ynys Môn and wider north Wales region benefit from the opportunities which come with tidal stream energy.
Morlais is run by Anglesey social enterprise, Menter Môn. It is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and has also secured funding for consent and development from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Isle of Anglesey County Council.