Probably largely unnoticed by most Worthing residents, Chancellor George Osborne made an announcement in his recent budget to the delight of Swansea. The announcement had a familiar ring to those who followed the fortunes of ‘Project Worthing’ five years ago.
‘Project Worthing’ was a multi-million pound alternative scheme to replace the redundant Aquarena pool with a leisure complex including an arena, an ice rink and a 50 metre swimming pool. The original scheme included a lagoon running parallel to the coast from the Aquarena to Brooklands.
Marine turbines at the entrance to the lagoon would use tidal power to generate electricity and this is where the bells started ringing with Mr Osborne’s announcement. In his budget speech the Chancellor announced negotiations were opening on a £1 billion tidal lagoon in Swansea.
Swansea’s proposed tidal lagoon is seen as a first of its kind using the ebb and flow of the tide to draw power for electricity – definitely sounds familiar. And the Government is taking it seriously unlike Worthing’s Tory councillors who described ‘Project Worthing’ at the times ‘fantasy’ and a ‘pipe dream’.
Worthing Council rejected ‘Project Worthing’ and built the Splashpoint leisure complex instead citing lack of financial detail in the ‘Project Worthing’ proposals. Swansea through their efforts have their lagoon published in the National Infrastructure Programme. Perhaps Worthing should have tried just that little bit more.