The rocky Shorrock show
Swansea tidal lagoon, Issue 1470
swansea-lagoon.jpg MARK SHORROCK, chief executive and major shareholder of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon project, appeared before a parliamentary committee last week to plead for the fat subsidy he wants for his DeLorean of the Deep (Eyes passim).

Shorrock blew the customary smoke and sophistry over valiant attempts by members to get details on its exorbitant costs, prices and finance, and was characteristically disingenuous about the stake in the project being taken by his wife’s firm, Good Energy (see Eye 1444). His real jaw-dropper, though, was an outright denial when questioned about his quarrying schemes in Cornwall, which deserves careful examination.

Lagoon construction would need millions of tonnes of rock. Shorrock’s plan is to quarry it from St Keverne, a beauty spot and marine conservation area in Cornwall owned by Shire Oak, another of his many commercial ventures (see Eye 1440). In parliament he was asked if he had ever offered an inducement to the local parish council (PC) to support his planning application. He answered a flat “no”, which he repeated when the chair invited him to confirm his answer for the record.

‘Community fund’
The matter was then dropped – a little too quickly, perhaps. The Eye has obtained a copy of Shorrock’s proposal to St Keverne PC. Although structured to look like a contract, Shire Oak’s initial draft of “the agreement” contained only unilateral undertakings by the company, including donations of a substantial six-figure sum (the exact amount depending on how much rock was excavated) as a “community fund” to be paid to the PC. At first, Shire Oak proposed no reciprocal obligations on the part of the PC.

Then Shorrock dropped his shocker. A new paragraph was inserted, stating: “The Parish Council covenants with Shire Oak that it will give reasonable support to the application for Planning Permission and not make representations against [it]. Shire Oak may terminate this agreement at its absolute discretion if the Parish Council is in breach of this clause.” It was helpfully explained that Shire Oak had no intention of paying anything if the PC failed to support the application. The PC recognised this for what it was, and honourably dropped it like a hot potato.

Readers can form their own views as to whether Shorrock’s offer of payment conditional upon support constitutes an inducement. Parliamentarians, meanwhile, will be considering carefully whether the costly Swansea project led by Shorrock is an appropriate recipient of substantial public subsidies.

‘Old Sparky’

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Private Eye Issue 1469