People in Wales living next to new nuclear power plants could get free electricity under UK Gov plans
People in Wales living next to new nuclear power plants could get free electricity, under plans by the UK Government.
A Government Cabinet minister said that free energy was being considered to compensate residents living close to nuclear plants as part of a “green” strategy to wean Britain off gas and oil.
Wylfa on Anglesey and Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd are currently being mooted as the locations of new modular reactors created by a Rolls-Royce led consortium.
US nuclear company Westinghouse has also put together a consortium with construction group Bechtel to revive plans for two nuclear reactors at Wylfa since Hitachi, a Japanese conglomerate, abandoned their own plans in 2019.
The plan for free electricity was signalled by Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary.
He told the Telegraph newspaper: “We have seen great examples of other countries where they built a nuclear power station and within a certain radius of that power station people get free power, so it’s right to look at innovation, to make sure we wean ourselves off hydrocarbons.”
Asked if free energy bills were an option, a source said: “Yes, but long term. We’re looking at how communities can benefit from new infrastructure.”
Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie has also been enthusiastic about the plans, describing herself in the House of Commons as “the Atomic Kitten”.
However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be less enthusiastic given the cost to the taxpayer of financing such huge projects that would not be operational for decades, with a target of meeting the UK Government’s ‘net zero’ goal by 2050.
The Chancellor wants to bring down spending in order to be able to cut taxes before the General Election which is expected to be in 2024.
More nuclear power at Wylfa is not without its critics with campaign groups CADNO and PAWB among the local opposition.
Writing for Nation.Cymru, Dylan Morgan of PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) warned that “nuclear power is a dirty, outdated, dangerous, vastly expensive technology which threatens both human and environmental health”.
“It would also steal much-needed resources from renewable technologies which are cheaper, much quicker to build and more effective to combat the effects of climate change.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price also spoke out against nuclear power over the weekend, calling it “the wrong answer” to Wales’ energy needs.
“We do not support nuclear power. It’s the wrong answer. Renewables absolutely is the way to go. And I fear that, you know, nuclear power, very expensive and unnecessary distraction,” he said.
However, speaking on Sunday Politics Wales, UK Government Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said that a new Wylfa would be “transformational” for Wales’ economy.
“I think we’ve moved along a lot further than we have ever been, as far as I can remember anyway, in recognising the need for large and smaller-scale nuclear,” he said.
“This would be one of the most transformational things on the north Wales economy than any of us will have ever experienced. And actually what this has indicated is the government has not lost sight of that.
“Those kinds of initiatives remain absolutely fundamental to the economic fortunes of people across the whole of Wales let alone Wylfa.”
The original Wylfa power station became operational in 1971 and started decommissioning in 2015.
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