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Assurances sought over future of Wylfa nuclear power station.

30 Oct 2023 3 minute read
The decommissioned Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey. Photo by rodtuk.

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.

‘Heartbreaking’

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.

Trawsfynydd

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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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
29 days ago

Be aware, citizens, new nuclear in Cymru will ensure independence will disappear for at least a generation. Our dependence on rUK would be complete. The unionists would have won.

There are much safer, employment-richer and cheaper options for our future. Nuclear is ‘a future technology whose time has passed’.

If we want cheaper energy for homes and businesses, then nuclear is exactly the wrong option.

Globally, we must all say no to nuclear.

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
28 days ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

And new nuclear will undermine all those community energy schemes across Cymru which the government does much to frustrate and limit to help the heavily subsidised, dirty and unsustainable Big Energy sector.

Small-scale means energy under our control. Big Energy means out of control, large whacks of energy which lend themselves to Large Industry (and little employment) transmission lines everywhere, foreign-owned and expensive.

saveenergy
saveenergy
28 days ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

“Small-scale means energy under our control.” Agreed; that’s why we should have Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) & lots of them, installed close to the point of use (reducing transmission losses & allows waste heat to be used for industrial processes & district heating), “Big Energy means out of control,” Agreed; because you can’t control costs & construction ( i.e.- Hinkley Point C way over time & budget ) “large whacks of energy which lend themselves to “ Losing a big % of capacity when a single plant closes for maintenance. “transmission lines everywhere, foreign-owned and expensive”. Exactly what we are… Read more »

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