Wales politics

'Shameful' delays to £1bn Swansea Bay tidal lagoon

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Media captionTim Farron says victory in the assembly election is 'there to be won'

Delays to a £1bn tidal energy project in Swansea are "shameful", Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said.

In his first speech as leader to the party's Welsh conference, Mr Farron questioned the UK government's commitment to green energy schemes.

David Cameron has said the prospect of large subsidies being needed for the lagoon had reduced his enthusiasm.

Lib Dems should also challenge Labour's "sense of entitlement to rule" at the assembly election, Mr Farron said.

"We have been a world leader in this field and maintaining that status is now in jeopardy," he told the conference in Cardiff on Saturday.

"The tidal lagoon is a litmus test for the government. Do you care about this agenda? Or was it all for show?

"For five years we fought sceptical Tories to ensure the coalition was the greenest government ever.

"In the last six months this progress has been unravelled at an alarming pace."

Image copyright TLP

Referring to Mr Cameron's visit to a Norwegian glacier in 2006 to underline his green credentials, Mr Farron said "the huskies, kind of shot by Cameron ages ago when their usefulness to him had run its course, will be turning in their graves".

He added: "It is shameful that the work we began in coalition to deliver this is being unpicked."

The proposals in Swansea are for 16 turbines, placed roughly a mile out to sea, to generate 320 megawatt of power - which would then be converted into electricity.

In January, BBC Wales heard there were reservations relating to the proposed lagoon's modelling and turbine engineering.

But Tidal Lagoon Power said questions on the engineering and environmental impact had been addressed in depth.

Image copyright PA

In his speech, Mr Farron also accused the Welsh Labour government of failing to deliver in its 17 years in office.

He said: "We need to challenge Labour's arrogant sense of entitlement to rule.

"They act like they are the landlords of Wales, that you have no right to vote any other way. We will not have that."

On the European referendum, he said: "Given the scale of international challenges of a global economy, climate change and the refugee crisis - are we better to face these together or alone?

"They are the real questions, and they are no brainers.

"If you want a Britain that is prosperous, secure, a Britain that matters, then you are voting to keep Britain in Europe."

On the refugee crisis, Mr Farron said Prime Minister David Cameron should take in 3,000 child refugees from Syria,

"Do the right thing, do the British thing and do it now," he said.

He said Jeremy Corbyn's Labour was "now without doubt the most useless opposition in the history of British politics".

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Media captionKirsty Williams says the Lib Dems are 'here for the people'

After lunch, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said the blame for devolution's failure to deliver better services should be laid at the door of a "tired, bankrupt" Labour Party.

She cited a proposal to ban e-cigarettes in public places while NHS waiting times remain high as an example of the Welsh Labour ministers' wrong priorities.

"In creating the Welsh government, we were promised a new politics in touch with our communities, a politics in which Wales takes responsibility for its own decisions," Ms Williams said.

"But above all else, we were promised better outcomes. Yet this government fails to even get the basics right."

She added: "There's nothing. This government is tired, it has nothing to offer. It's bankrupt of ideas."

She accused First Minister Carwyn Jones of having "the air of a man who's winging it".

'Balanced growth'

Earlier, opening the morning session, the party's economy spokeswoman Eluned Parrott said it was essential to end Welsh Labour ministers' "chocolate box politics which offers a shiny new name for the same hackneyed old ideas".

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats call for a new direction: a long term, internationalist, economic plan which fixes the foundations, brings balanced growth to our economy, and allows our deeply rooted industries and enterprises to grow and develop," she said.

The Liberal Democrats currently have 5 AMs, but opinion polls suggest they could lose ground in May's election.

The party also announced that Judith Woodman, opposition leader on Cardiff council, was the Lib Dem's south Wales candidate in the police and crime commissioner elections, also taking place on 5 May.

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

In the wake of the general election result, the Lib Dems have done plenty of soul searching and have come up with a strategy that strips away anything that is deemed surplus to requirements.

So gone is talk of the constitution - I'm told Kirsty Williams hasn't mentioned further powers for Wales once in any of her recent speeches - and the same goes for any talk of future coalitions.

The internal politics in Cardiff Bay is considered a distraction as we head into the business end of an assembly campaign.

Instead there will be what they call a relentless focus on public service delivery, and in particular smaller class sizes and more nurses.

It's all about policies that can be explained in a sentence or two on the doorstep. Will it be enough?

We now all know what a Lib Dem disaster looks and feels like after last year.

The challenge is simple: stop history repeating itself in Wales.

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