Tuesday 18 June 2019

Hanging in the balance: the planned new nuclear power station in North Wales - just 60 miles from Dublin

New plant is intended for Anglesey

A map showing the plant’s location
A map showing the plant’s location

Alan Jones

There is growing uncertainty about a planned new nuclear power station after a report that the project is going to be put on hold.

The plant is planned for development on the North Wales coast about 60 miles from Dublin.

But the board of Japanese giant Hitachi is expected to decide next week to suspend all work on the Wylfa Newydd plant on Anglesey.

Negotiations with the UK Government had hit an "impasse", the Nikkei Asian Review reported from Tokyo.

An artist’s impression of the proposed new plant on the coast of Anglesey
An artist’s impression of the proposed new plant on the coast of Anglesey

A spokesman for Horizon, the company behind the multibillion pound project, said no decision had been made.

Horizon has been in formal negotiations with the UK Government regarding financing of the Wylfa Newydd project "in a way that works both for investors and the UK electricity customer".

A statement said: "This is one of the aspects of the project development phase that must be concluded before construction of Wylfa Newydd can go ahead, but the discussions are commercially confidential and we won't be commenting on rumours or speculation."

Sue Ferns, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, said: "This is extremely worrying news, especially coming in the wake of Toshiba's recent withdrawal from the Moorside project.

"To lose one major nuclear project is a serious blow, to lose two in six months would set alarm bells ringing about the sincerity of the Government's commitment to new nuclear."

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association said it was "imperative" that the project went ahead.

However Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said: "The Government's energy policy is in tatters, but this is the opposite of a disaster.

"We could have locked ourselves into reliance on an obsolete, unaffordable technology, but we've been given the chance to think again and make a better decision.

"Our urgent, immediate dilemma - how to maintain security of supply whilst cutting carbon - can be solved by making offshore wind, at half the cost of nuclear, the backbone of the new power system.

"The failure of the old technology is the opportunity the new technologies need, and Britain's world-leading offshore wind industry's time has come."

Sara Medi Jones, acting general secretary of CND, said: "Two major international investors have now suspended plans to build nuclear reactors here in Britain.

"Toshiba withdrew from the Moorside plant just a few weeks ago, and now Hitatchi appears to have reached the same conclusion, that new nuclear isn't economically viable.

"This should be a moment of reckoning for the Government, forcing a nuclear policy rethink."

A UK Business Department spokesman said: "Negotiations with Hitachi on agreeing a deal that provides value for money for consumers and taxpayers on the Wylfa project are ongoing.

"They are commercially sensitive and we do not comment on speculation."

Press Association

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