Marine-turbine-spinners to plastic-burners SIMEC Atlantis have accused a UK devolved administration with imperilling their bid to convert south Wales’ former coal plant at Uskmouth to clean generation.
Permit checkers at Natural Resources Wales, an arms-length body of Wales’ government, have decided Mark Drakeford’s Labour-led administration in Cardiff must step in to rule on the twin-phase 220MW project’s future, the firm told investors today.
SIMEC-Atlantis’ share price today took a pounding on the news. By 14:30, its ordinary shares had plummeted 38% on the LSE, valuing the firm at a year low of £14.98 million.
NRW had previously indicated it would approve the Uskmouth innovation near Newport, subject to public consultations due to begin last month. But lawyers for the body have now decided a decision needs to be taken by ministers.
SIMEC Atlantis says coal burners offering potential overseas earnings are eager to explore similar conversions overseas.
This morning’s statement did not hide the firm’s impatience with the last-minute change of mind by NRW’s lawyers and the body’s blocking by Cardiff.
“Welsh government putting hundreds of jobs at risk”
“This further delay is a blow to South Wales and to this vital green energy project, at a time when the country is facing an energy crisis with ….a dependency on imported gas causing unsustainable price rises for homes and industries across the UK”, SIMEC Atlantis alleges.
“This direction has been left to the very end of the NRW process. It follows over a year of detailed information sharing between ourselves and NRW”.
“The Welsh Government is putting at risk a project that will produce negative emissions, create hundreds of jobs in the Newport region, deliver hundreds of millions of pounds in investment and deliver the critical decarbonisation that industries in the region, including steel and data centres, require to make them sustainable”, the statement adds.
The former coal plant’s intended fuel is non-recyclable waste developed by N&P Group from material including plastics, and otherwise destined for landfills and oceans.
“A delay to this project will not reduce the production of this waste”, SIMEC-Atlantis argues, “but instead will result in the continued shipping of plastic waste to other countries for it to be burned or the digging of deeper holes in which it will be buried”.