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New nuclear project ‘must work for the people of Ynys Môn’ says council leader

13 Feb 2024 5 minute read
The Magnox Wylfa nuclear plant on Anglesey. Credit – Ian Capper, geograph.org.uk

Martin Shipton

Any future developments on the Wylfa site must work for the people of Ynys Môn before anyone else, according to the leader of Anglesey council.

Llinos Medi was reacting to the news that tentative talks are underway to resurrect the idea of a new nuclear power station at the location.

Reports suggest that negotiations have begun between state-owned Great British Nuclear – the vehicle for nuclear developments first mooted by Boris Johnson when he was Prime Minister –  and Hitachi to take control of the Wylfa site on Ynys Môn. This follows the scrapping of the Wylfa Newydd project in 2019 by Hitachi.

Following recent changes to the UK Government’s strategy on nuclear projects, an unnamed UK Government Minister suggested to the Financial Times that “early discussions’” have begun on the acquisition of this land, although a deal might not be made until after the general election expected later this year.

False dawn

Ms Medi, who is also Plaid Cymru’s general election candidate for Ynys Môn, said: “As council leader, I played a key part in ensuring previous developments at Wylfa benefitted the community and local people, only for the UK Conservative Government to let us down at the final hurdle by failing to put a funding model in place.

“We’ve had too many false dawns from the UK Conservative government and if they’re serious, this time around, about developing a project on the Wylfa site, the same core principle of ensuring that this benefits local people and the community must be at the heart of every decision.

“We need a clear timeline of events so we can secure the jobs for our local people. Any development has to work for the people of Ynys Môn before anyone else.”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, welcomed news of the talks, describing Wylfa as “one of the very best sites for new nuclear in the UK”.

“The success of ramping up nuclear to the levels needed for energy security and net zero rests a great deal on whether we develop at Wylfa,” he said.

Pressure

Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, also welcomed the development and said she would “continue to keep the pressure up until contracts are signed”.

“The nuclear industry is unanimous that Wylfa is the best site in Europe for large-scale nuclear,” she said, adding that it would be “the largest inward investment” in Welsh history and “transformational” for the people of north-west Wales.

Hitachi, which has also suspended work on another site it owns in Oldbury, Gloucestershire, said it would “continue to speak with interested parties about the future for the sites”.

In January 2019, Hitachi said it was suspending work at the £13bn Wylfa Newydd plant because of rising costs. It had been in talks with the UK government about funding for the project, which failed to materialise.The project was expected to have created about 9,000 jobs during construction.The UK Government told the BBC that while no decisions on sites have yet been taken, it was “working with Great British Nuclear to support access to potential sites for new nuclear projects”.

Potential sites

A spokesman for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “Wylfa is one of a number of potential sites that could host civil nuclear projects.”

Nuclear power is planned to be a key part of the UK’s energy mix, and the spokesman added the department had recently launched a roadmap “setting out the biggest expansion of the sector in 70 years”.Rejuvenating Wylfa is part of this larger initiative by the UK to accelerate its efforts to achieve the target of 24 gigawatts (GW) of capacity from nuclear power by 2050.

Electricite de France SA (EDF) recently announced that their nuclear project at Hinkley Point, the UK’s largest energy project, will require an additional investment of up to £10bn to construct and will take several years longer than the planned timeline. In addition, the UK Government also declared an extra £1.3bn for the Sizewell C nuclear plant, in an effort to attract private capital.

It is thought that Wylfa could host cutting-edge nuclear infrastructure like small modular reactors (SMR). The government is optimistic that SMRs will simplify and reduce the cost of nuclear power plant construction.

The Destination Nuclear campaign predicts that the number of employees in the industry needs to double within the next 20 years to support the possible quadrupling of output.

The Great British Nuclear project was first announced as part of plans to source 95% of the UK’s electricity from “low carbon” sources, of which nuclear power would be one.

These smaller and transportable reactors have the capacity of up to 300MW(e) per unit, and will form the backbone of the GBN project.

According to last year’s Spring Budget: “Small Modular Reactors will be the initial focus of Great British Nuclear, but further gigawatt-scale projects will also be considered in future”.

Hunt also announced that nuclear power would be redefined as a “green” energy in the UK, thus counting towards net-zero targets. This was intended to encourage private sector investment into the nuclear programme.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

I hear that Virginia has plans for the old Saro factory at Llanfaes too, regarding the offshore energy industry…

Traws got away without a mention…

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

How is the EDF project going? You know, the French and Chinese nuclear power plant that will be used to cream loot from the UK?
Yeah.
For the people of Tory donors it will be OK.

Try green, by the time you have infrastructure in for green, houses upgraded, you probably get change from that 13bn claimed or try the nuke power plant build and a 70 billion bill by the time we have finished being fleeced (looking at the way Hinkley is going).

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