Welsh Local Government Pension Funds boost for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project

Swansea’s hopeful tidal lagoon project has been boosted by a major vote of confidence while the UK Government considers whether or not to support it.

Fund Managers for billions of pounds of Welsh public sector pension funds have announced their provisional support for the scheme.

The endorsement by the eight members of the Joint Governance Committee of the Wales Pension Partnership (WPP) is seen as the first step in a potential investment in the £1.3bn renewable energy project.

Such an investment would join significant financial backing from other investors to help deliver the project.

Meanwhile, despite media speculation the UK Government has given no clear date for delivering it’s verdict on the scheme, although many predict an announcement  is immininent.

Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said:

“It is fantastic news to learn that the WPP is backing the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. It is an indicator that they will invest in the scheme should the Westminster Government give the project the green light.

“Of course, any evaluation and decision they take would not be political; it would be based on sound professional financial advice by pension fund experts.

“Pension fund managers are an extremely cautious group. They recognise the importance of investing for the long term and they also recognise that pension funds need to look carefully at the impact of what they do.

“In this case they believe that it is worthwhile to examine the opportunities in investing in the future of a green technology that has the potential to generate sustainable energy for a century to come, as well as acting as a major boost to the local economy.

“The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is a pathfinder project which could see a whole network of tidal lagoons built around Britain.  The support required from Government is very much in line with that being provided to other renewable technologies at this stage of the investment cycle or indeed the new Hinckley Point nuclear power plant, while the impact on end-user bills will be minimal

“Coming on what seems to be the eve of the Westminster Government’s decision on the future of the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, this is another game-changing moment to sit alongside the Welsh Government’s £200m investment offer of last week.”

WPP Chair Cllr Mark Norris, of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said:

“The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon offers WPP a rare opportunity to invest in a significant infrastructure project right on our own doorstep. Investment by pension funds in such projects is being encouraged by the UK Government.

“Our pensioners would benefit from the stable, consistent returns that the project offers – just what our funds are looking for. Of course, as Swansea is a pathfinder project, it could be the first of other investment opportunities in Wales.”

A spokesperson for Swansea Bay City Region – covering Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea – said:

“We welcome the WPP support for the lagoon.

“The scheme would be enormously positive for the region because of the jobs and export opportunities it would bring.

“The project would boost the work we’re doing to improve lives through the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal; this includes the research and advancement of sustainable energy as a key theme.

“It would place Wales at the forefront of renewable energy technology, strengthening our growing reputation for innovation.”