Since Anglesey-based social enterprise Menter Môn secured the contract to manage the Morlais tidal energy demonstration zone, talking and listening to the views of local people and organisations as well as experts has been central to the project.
Ensuring maximum benefit to the area has been Menter Môn’s objective from the start – this includes the environmental as well as the economic and social.
Gerallt Llewelyn Jones is a director with Morlais, he explains: “As a project which is run locally, we are determined to make sure Anglesey and north Wales benefit as much as possible from our plans to generate clean, low carbon electricity at the site. And because we are local, we also understand the need to listen to the views of people who live and work here.
“The status of South Stack as an area of outstanding natural beauty and as an environmentally sensitive site is important to us, and we have carried out extensive impact assessments in order to understand the possible effects of Morlais on wildlife here. We have worked with experts throughout and have consulted regularly with the RSPB and others.
“The RSPB has called for a phased approach to Morlais in a recent statement – this is exactly what we aim to do and is what has been outlined in our submission to Welsh Government. Turbines will be deployed in the sea gradually – with close monitoring of any effects on wildlife.
“We are confident that our research has been thorough and that we will be able to proceed knowing that there will not be a negative effect on birds. But we are also keen to continue to listen and learn and only when it is clear that sea birds and mammals will not be harmed, only then will further devices will be installed in the sea.
“We are disappointed with RSPB’s statement as we have had regular discussions with them and listened to feedback. It is as a result of these and other conversations that we are looking at a very controlled phased deployment, with the first turbines being carefully and extensively monitored to confirm our scientific expectations that they are safe.”
Dafydd Gruffydd is Managing Director of Menter Môn, he adds: “As an organisation we have been working on environmental and wildlife projects for over 25 years – including reinstating the red squirrel on Anglesey and the development of the coastal path. The well-being of our communities is what drives us as a company and is core to all our projects – Morlais is no different. There is a real opportunity here to bring jobs to the area as well as taking positive steps to tackle climate change.
“We are faced with new challenges and the pandemic has shown that we need to change the way we think about the economy and environment. We need to consider how we approach a green recovery and this includes low carbon green electricity generation – which is exactly what Morlais aims to do. Our efforts to work towards government targets for carbon reduction must be more than just empty statements, action is needed. Morlais is an opportunity to make a difference and at the same time bring jobs and economic benefit to an area that really needs such a boost.”
Morlais is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.