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Swansea Bay–The Tip Of The Iceberg

January 14, 2017

By Paul Homewood


h/t Oldbrew & It Does Not Add Up




While enviros are celebrating the likelihood that the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon will get the go ahead, across the other side of the Bristol Channel, residents are less happy, as Cornwall Live reported last October:


Protesters fighting against the reopening of a quarry in Cornwall have held a rally to gather support ahead of a new legal battle. They hope a simple fence will hold the key to stopping a multi-million pound project involving Dean Quarry on the Lizard peninsula.

Members of the action group Cornwall Against Dean Super-quarry (Cads) gathered outside the gates of the site near St Keverne at the weekend to show their opposition. The campaign has become a major headache for the companies hoping to create the world’s largest tidal power station and has involved legal challenges and high court drama.

Shire Oak Quarries wants to take millions of tons of rock from Cornwall to build a 6.5 mile breakwater for a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay. Its sister company Tidal Lagoon Plc intends to build a 320 megawatt renewable energy power station, which will generate electricity from the changing tides.

Where is Dean Quarry?

The site is a quarry on the Lizard peninsula near St Keverne which has been disused since 2005. The whole area is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty and is within the Coverack to Porthoustock site of special scientific interest. Off shore of Dean Quarry is The Manacles reef, a designated marine conservation zone.

What is the project?

Tidal Lagoon Plc has produced this video, to explain its vision for the project in Swansea Bay (which is principally aimed at a Welsh audience and includes a couple of sentences in Welsh at the beginning). It hopes to use rock from Dean Quarry for the lagoon breakwater.

Who is involved?

Shire Oak Quarries bought Dean Quarry last year and is the sister company of Tidal Lagoon Plc. No final decision has been made but the company has indicated that 5 million tons of rock could be shipped from Dean Quarry to build the breakwater for the lagoon.

Cornwall Against Dean Super-quarry (Cads) is a campaign group made up of people living near Dean Quarry who are opposed to it reopening. They fear blasting and quarrying will ruin the tranquillity of the area and have raised concerns about the impact of a new breakwater at Dean Quarry affecting The Manacles.

Cornwall Council has come under fire from Cads for granting planning permission for infrastructure at Dean Quarry in April last year. Cads took Cornwall Council to the High Court last year and won a judicial review in December into the way planning permission for Dean Quarry was granted. The permission was overturned.

See related news: No appeal for Cornwall Council over lost Dean Quarry judicial review case

What is the key issue for Dean Quarry?

Central to Cads’ campaign is a security fence around Dean Quarry which was erected with planning permission last year. After the judicial review overturned the planning permission, Cads has argued that the fence should be taken down. Shire Oak Quarries needs the fence to carry out work and has said it will reapply for permission to keep it in place.


What is happening now?

As part of its mineral rights which run until 2035, Shire Oak Quarries must undertake certain work including environmental enhancement works and quarrying before October 8. A drilling rig was brought to the site last week and a controlled blast was undertaken ahead of the crucial deadline.

Cads has now said it will launch a second judicial review via their solicitors, Stephens Scown LLP against Cornwall Council. The group argues that the council should have taken enforcement action against Shire Oak Quarries for the fence.

Silke Roskilly, Chairwoman of Cads said: "We are bitterly disappointed that yet again we are facing Cornwall Council and Shire Oak Quarries in court, arguing about the same environmental concerns. Mr Justice Dove was very clear in his ruling back in December 2015 that the re-opening and developing of Dean Quarry constitutes a major development in
an area of outstanding beauty and therefore must have and environmental impact assessment."


A campaigner outside the entrance to Dean Quarry.

What will happen next?

The next few months will be critical to the project. Shire Oak Quarries is intending to submit a new planning application for the fence and must also, at some point, apply for permission for a proposed breakwater to load barges from Dean Quarry.

Cads is pushing ahead with its second judicial review and Cornwall Council will have to decide if it will defend its decision not to take enforcement action against Shire Oak.

The government will also have to decide if the Swansea Bay lagoon project gets the go ahead. An Independent Review of Tidal Lagoons which is being led by industry expert Charles Hendry. He and a team of civil servants are assessing the strategic case for tidal lagoons and whether they could play a cost effective role as part of the UK energy mix.


Meanwhile, the full Hendry report includes this assessment of what costs might look like for the larger tidal lagoons due to follow Swansea.




As the strike price is set at the beginning of the project, and because it is only partially index linked, it is expected that the strike price for the first year of operation will be less than the initial price, when measured in real prices.

So, for instance, at 2012 prices, it is expected that the cost of electricity will be £96.10/MWh come 2027, assuming cost reductions from using lessons learned from Swansea Bay.

Note again that this is at 2012 prices, so would equate to about £105/MWh at today’s prices, compared to a market price of under £45/MWh.

Newport looks to be even dearer.

The logic of Hendry’s argument is that over the full 90 years of the contract the real price will gradually decline, and eventually become competitive.

However, that is of little consolation to bill payers in the next two or three decades.

Hendry estimates that if the CfD was fully index linked, prices would really be:




But even these are well above current market rates.

However, Hendry’s analysis misses the real point. Because tidal power is not fully dispatchable, it still needs back up power, from CCGT plants or other sources, whose fixed and capital costs still need to be paid for.

It is therefore wrong to compare tidal power with the total costs of dispatchable alternatives. Instead you must compare the total cost of tidal with the variable cost of CCGT etc.

According to the BEIS, the variable cost for CCGT is £38/MWh, for plants commissioning in 2020, well below even the most optimistic estimates for tidal.





If we assume an average strike price of £105/MWh for the early years of operation of the six tidal lagoons discussed, and compare this with the variable cost of CCGT, we can calculate that the effective subsidy would amount to £1.9bn a year.

  1. bushwalker permalink
    January 14, 2017 6:25 pm

    The rock in the Dean Quarry must be special lagoon-building rock. It’s hard to believe there isn’t suitable rock much closer to Swansea than the Lizard Peninsula.

    • January 15, 2017 7:02 am

      The reason for Dean Quarry was given in the Environmental Impact Assessment as:
      “We identified Dean Quarry as a suitable source of material for the new lagoon for a
      number of reasons.
      -It is located on the coast, meaning we can move material by sea rather than by road.
      -It has enough suitable rock (specifically gabbro) for Swansea Bay lagoon, but also
      future projects.
      -It was operational until 2008
      -It allows us to support British industry and jobs rather than seeking material from
      further afield.
      -It has valid planning consent – subject to conditions.
      -There is the potential for additional resource within the existing quarry boundary this
      would of course be subject to obtaining further planning consent.

  2. HotScot permalink
    January 14, 2017 6:32 pm

    If I have got this right, the green goons are tying themselves in knots.

    They don’t want fossil derived energy because it pollutes the atmosphere with Co2 so they demand ‘clean’ energy from wind, solar and wave power which is just so ‘incredibly cheap’ and abundant. But when someone tells them there is an environmental cost for that, which is digging up rocks, they still b*tch.

    Do they really expect civilisation to run on zero energy whatsoever?

  3. Gray permalink
    January 14, 2017 6:56 pm

    So does Shorrock own the quarry?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 14, 2017 7:16 pm

      Hole in one!

  4. martinbrumby permalink
    January 14, 2017 8:06 pm

    Having been engineer to a couple of sea-defence projects in North Wales, I can confirm that the specification for suitable rock needs to be very tight. So it is reasonable to assume that the rock at Dean Quarry is suitable and that alternatives (from Scotland or Scandinavia) would be even more expensive.
    If there was any real justification for this ridiculous project other than virtue-signalling and allowing “industry expert” (Ho Ho) Hendry and his venal chums to fill their boots with taxpayers’ money; then I would have less sympathy for the Cornish protesters.
    Any mineral can only be extracted from where it is.
    But the primary extraction proposed by Hendry appears to be the piss.

  5. Athelstan permalink
    January 14, 2017 8:23 pm

    I have this recurring nightmare, I am stuck, rigid, in a Coen Brothers film,

    I am the Edvard Munch posed picture hand’s depicted clasped to my face dumbstruck scream of horror, eyes petrified and looking deaths rictus, sensing its fetid reek…..

    There I am, Hanging alone and strung out, in the main dining room, looking on while the Titanic the horrendous upset as the ship commences to list “oh Lord and fuck to me! she’s going down Sir!”

    The guests still playing cards and making politic noises about the mood music – of course we need green, green and more GREEN! In the corner, is, the quartermaster discussing the merits of various fish and prices and more green paint. Suddenly a quick flash to a scene in a small quayside in a New England port “ya’ll get no feyissh from us yer bastaaards!”

    And thinking, you all deserve skewering, gutting and smoking……………..

    Then, to be served up at a Goldman Sachs banquet in NYC just across from the UN building and Obama saying to his Saudi Arab poncling guest,

    “see I told you, the British will go down and first…………….”

  6. wa231 permalink
    January 14, 2017 9:19 pm

    £35 MWH fuel cost for gas commissioning in 2020.

    But I suspect that is a projection – the current cost is much lower. Like the carbon costs, just add up lots of meaningless numbers to make the alternatives look better…

  7. Gerry, England permalink
    January 14, 2017 10:26 pm

    Strange how certain people can break the law and the council does nothing. And yet if one of us little people breaks the law the council come down heavily.

    • January 15, 2017 7:06 am

      Cornwall is a Unitary Authority. It is a very green authority, hence the reason it is carpeted with wind turbines and solar farms. It has a reputation for dubious behaviour (say no more).

  8. January 15, 2017 7:13 am

    I made the following notes about use of the quarry from a presentation given by the developers TLSB:
    “The breakwater/embankment will be built of millions of tons of gabbro rock from a reopened
    Dean Quarry in the Lizard Peninsular in Cornwall. The quarry is now owned by Shire Oak Quarries, a sister company to TLSB. It has been selected due to its proximity (when compared with shipping from outside the UK), suitability (in terms of rock density and particle size) and volume of rock available. The site is consented to extract rock and the company is preparing a planning application to replace the existing jetty with two new jetties plus a protective breakwater to enable the transport of all rock by sea, avoiding rail or road traffic for construction. The proposed jetties and breakwater would be located within the Manacles Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). This has understandably created controversy. TLSB says that it considered alternative sources of rock from as far away as Norway, but it seems to have overlooked, for example, the suitable rock available from an existing and operational super-quarry at Glensanda in Scotland, where, subject to contract, the required particle size could be obtained.”

  9. January 15, 2017 10:09 am

    ‘Starting Price’ should read ‘Startling Price’ 😉

  10. January 15, 2017 1:59 pm

    Having designed and built the first ‘Tidal Stream Turbine’ over 25 years ago (featured on Tomorrows World) I am a little disappointed how ideas and designs get hijacked by financial interests and Government Funding, and ultimately end up on the ‘scrap-heap’ of mad ideas. The ‘Tidal Stream Turbine’ was born out of a project to provide small amounts of irrigation water to farmers in Sudan living by the Nile.

    The first prototype that was installed near Fort William in Scotland, and it became obvious to me that deployment and maintenance would be the key criteria to success. Twenty years on and millions of pounds later, the technology has hardly moved forwards at all, and small technical problems turn into major disasters, such the recent demise of Tidal Energy Ltd and it’s Deltastream system. Following the original trials in Scotland, I came up with the ‘Tidal Fence Concept’ and then the ‘Tidal REEF Concept’, the latter being championed by the R.S.P.B as a far less damaging option for a major project in the Severn Estuary.

    Politics and money intervened, as can be ascertained by Googling Severn Tidal And Rolls Royce, but the technology is still there, is less damaging to fish and wading birds than a conventional barrage or the Swansea Lagoon’s design, so when will people begin to listen to those who actually started the ball rolling as opposed to those who have jumped on the bandwagon to simply make money out of dodgy R&D projects?

    The tidal REEF design was evolved here in Cornwall specifically to reduce the environmental impacts, and this includes a very much smaller requirement for quarried ‘armour stone’. This is because the REEF is made up of over 40% turbines and not embankment, whereas a conventional barrage or lagoon is about 90% embankment made of dredged and quarried material. This project like so many large civil engineering projects, HS2 included, is driven be money ahead of the environment and local opinion.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 16, 2017 10:12 am

      An interesting post. I think your technologies were among those considered in the Mersey feasibility studies I linked to in the next thread – Booker on Swansea Bay.

      Click to access MTP%20FS%20Stage%203%20Feasibility%20Report.pdf

      They did seem to think that the cost of power delivered was quite high.

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