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Huge potential in Welsh ports, coastal tourism and marine renewable energy, says National Assembly Committee

12/02/2016

Ynys Môn / Anglesey - Menai StraitThere is huge potential to be explored in Wales's maritime economy, according to a National Assembly for Wales committee.

The Enterprise and Business Committee concluded that a 'whole government' approach is needed to exploit that potential to the full.

The Committee also believes that a strike price for the generation of marine renewable energy needs to be agreed as a matter of urgency for Wales to take a world-lead on developing such technology.

The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project is one of four potential lagoon sites identified in Wales, with other renewable energy ideas being explored elsewhere including the Anglesey energy island.

The Committee was pleased that the Welsh Government had committed more than £77 million of EU Structural Funding to develop the 'blue economy', but concerns were raised about an apparent lack of engagement at EU level to explore other funding opportunities.

The Committee was also disappointed to hear that Welsh Government ministers had done little to explore potential opportunities for partnership with Ireland,  which is already developing its maritime economy through its Integrated Marine Plan.

William Graham AM, Chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee, said:

"The water that surrounds Wales on three sides is a natural resource that could be as valuable for Wales's future, as the coal beneath our valleys was in centuries past.

"Harnessing that potential will not happen by accident. It will need strategic thinking and leadership from the Welsh Government, and coordinated action across departments to deliver the vision.

"The Welsh Government must ensure that the Wales Marine Plan provides a comprehensive and overarching framework for the sustainable development of Wales' marine resources and coastal communities. Without that vision, leadership and coordination, Wales will miss out.

"In Ireland we saw what is possible when government departments work together with a single vision, a clear sense of direction and stretching targets – we want to see the same drive and ambitions on this side of the Irish Sea."

The Committee also called for certainty over the cost of ambitious energy projects proposed for the Welsh coast. Mr Graham added:

"Marine renewable energy is an ever-more significant part of the maritime sector, and we believe that Wales has an opportunity to be a world-leader in developing such technology.

"We would urge the setting of a strike price for such energy generation technology to add certainty to those driving projects such as the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and the Anglesey energy island, so that they can move forward."

The Committee makes 21 detailed recommendations in its report, and highlights one main recommendation:

"The Welsh Government should ensure that the Wales Marine Plan provides a comprehensive and overarching framework for the sustainable development of Wales' marine resources and coastal communities. It should contain objectives and measurable targets – including for economic performance – and be implemented through a 'whole government' approach, modelled on the Irish Integrated Marine Plan."

Report by the Enterprise and Business Committee on The Potential of the Maritime Economy in Wales (951 KB) 

More information about the Enterprise and Business Committee.

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