Assurances sought over future of Wylfa nuclear power station.
Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter
A council chief has called for certainty around the future of Wylfa nuclear power station.
Taking evidence as part of a one-day inquiry into nuclear energy and the Welsh economy, MSs were told Wyfla remains at the front of the queue to host a new large-scale reactor.
But Llinos Medi, leader of Plaid Cymru-led Isle of Anglesey council, raised the importance of managing expectations, saying hopes have been raised and dashed before.
Calling for certainty, she said: “The support of the community has been a factor of strength in the Wylfa Newydd site and it would be fair to the community because at the moment they just have some headlines and they see some very high-level things being said.”
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, said Wylfa remains one of the most suitable sites in Europe as he explained that the UK Government has a target of 24 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2050.
He told the Senedd’s economy committee if there is a new gigawatt-scale reactor beyond Sizewell C in Suffolk, it is “highly likely” to be Wyfla.
Mr Greatrex said: “If you were to speak to anybody involved in nuclear, it’s a site that is very highly regarded because of its geography, geology, community support – a range of different factors that make it a strong site for new-build development.”
In 2020, Hitachi, which owns the site, pulled out of a £20bn plan to build a nuclear power plant on the site. The Japanese firm blamed a lack of funding from the UK Government.
Alwen Williams – of Ambition North Wales, a partnership between councils, colleges and universities – raised concerns about a so-called brain drain of young people.
“I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with young people who were chosen to be part of the skills plan, or the skills scene, for the Wylfa development,” she said.
“It was quite heartbreaking, to be honest, to speak to them and hear how their career development has taken them out of Wales.
“These are Welsh speakers who would like to return to north Wales, but other developments across Britain are taking advantage of those skills that they have.”
Simon Bowen – who chairs Great British Nuclear, which aims to deliver on the UK Government’s 2050 target – stressed that powers are reserved to Westminster.
“The main thing that needs to happen – and it’s not within the gift of the Welsh Assembly [sic] – is that [UK] Government’s got a make a decision on whether it wants gigawatt or not, because there’s no question in my mind that the best site for gigawatt is Wylfa.”
Mr Bowen told MSs that Hitachi does not want to pursue future gigawatt developments in the UK and the company is prepared to consider selling the site.
In 2021, Cwmni Egino was established to progress plans for small modular reactors at Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd.
Alan Raymant, its chief executive, said the Welsh Government-owned company has been developing a business plan for the site, concluding that it is feasible.
However, he cautioned that the grid connection is a “hugely constrained aspect”.
Alwen Williams said £20 million has been earmarked for Trawsfynydd as part of the North Wales Growth Deal.
She told the meeting on Thursday October 26: “There’s strong evidence that there is scope for the two developments.
“We have the skills, we have the understanding of the sector and I truly believe that, looking to the future, we need to develop Wylfa and Traws.”
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