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UK Government buys Wylfa nuclear site in £160m deal

06 Mar 2024 4 minute read
The decommissioned Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey. Photo by rodtuk.

Emily Price

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that the UK Government has bought the former Wylfa nuclear site in north Wales.

The chancellor made the announcement during his budget on Wednesday (March 6) saying an agreement had been reached with Hitachi to acquire the site for £160m – as well as the Oldbury site in south Gloucestershire.

The Nuclear Industry Association said the deal “marks a vital step” in delivering the UK Government’s 24 GW by 2050 ambition.

In 2020, Hitachi pulled out of a multi-billion pound plan to build a nuclear power plant on the site in Ynys Môn.

Ambition

The £20 billion gigawatt-scale development on the coastline was said to be vital to the UK Government realising its ambition for nuclear energy to meet up to a quarter of UK electricity demand by 2050.

Rising costs and a failure to reach a financial agreement with the UK Government led to the Japanese firm’s development being suspended in January 2019.

The project was expected to have created about 9,000 jobs during construction.

Making the announcement, Mr Hunt said: “Ynys Môn has a vital role in delivering our nuclear ambitions. No-one should take more credit for today’s announcement than my tireless, tenacious and turbo-charged honourable friend for Ynys Môn.”

The Chancellor was referencing Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie who has made continuous calls to bring new nuclear to Wylfa since she was elected in 2019.

Mr Hunt also confirmed the UK Government would be moving ahead with the next phase of its small nuclear reactor programme.

He said it would play an important role alongside large nuclear as a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels.

‘Fantastic news’

It is thought that Wylfa could host cutting-edge nuclear infrastructure like small modular reactors (SMR).

The UK Government says SMRs will simplify and reduce the cost of nuclear power plant construction.

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “The acquisition of Wylfa as a site for new nuclear development is fantastic news for Anglesey and the wider Welsh economy.

“It’s the next step on our path to an energy secure and net zero future, while also laying the foundations for a huge economic boost.”

Reacting to the announcement, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “This is a pivotal moment for the future of nuclear in the UK and should mark the beginning of new projects at these sites.

“Wylfa is one of the very best sites for new nuclear anywhere in Europe and there is great promise for a series of SMRs at Oldbury. The success of ramping up nuclear capacity for energy security and net zero rests a great deal on whether we develop at these sites and others.

“New nuclear capacity at Wylfa would transform the North Wales economy with fresh investment, thousands of good jobs, as well as providing clean, reliable and sovereign power lasting well into the next century.

“I also welcome the beginning of the next phase of the SMR selection process, and I hope the work carried out over the coming months continues to be swift and thorough so that we don’t fall behind other countries in delivering our nuclear programme.

“There needs to be a huge ramp up of new nuclear, both SMRs and large-scale stations, and we must keep up this momentum.”

Anglesey Council Leader, Llinos Medi, said, “Now that the Wylfa site will be back in direct control of the UK Government, we hope that this will lead to a firm commitment as to when a development, either at GW or SMR scale will take place. The Island’s communities, in particular those in the North, we need clarity and certainty.

“The County Council, through its Energy Island Programme, has adopted and maintained a supportive, pro-active and collaborative position in respect of a new nuclear project at Wylfa.”

Job skills

Cllr Medi added: “Through adopting the proximity principle, we recognise that this development has the potential to transform the communities of North Anglesey and beyond by providing much needed high quality and long-term job, skills and supply chain opportunities.

“However, our support is not at any cost and a development must fully respect and enhance the Island’s sense of place including its environment, culture and the Welsh language.”

Anglesey Chief Executive, Dylan Williams, said: “We remain committed to continue playing a central role and to fully engage with UK Government, Great British Nuclear, industry, Welsh Government and other key stakeholders.

“As the local authority, we have an important role to play in influencing and informing stakeholders, to ensure this development aligns with our vision to create an Anglesey that is healthy and prosperous and where people can thrive.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Say hello Virginia and goodbye to Independence…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I’m fairly confident it will be goodbye Virginia come the election and ownership of Wylfa should be transferred to our government post Independence during divvying up the pie of assets we have paid for.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

post – independence ? You wish. As a nation we can’t hold any form of unity together for longer than it takes to utter the word “Freedom” and all this juggling of assets linked to nuclear is designed to bind us to the Union. Wales’ future is already mapped out by UK’s government as a source of energy ( wind, nuke and anything else), water, a big carbon offset plantation and leisure sites dotted in between. You want a proper job? Go to England otherwise take a seasonal or low rated job near any village/town/community that houses local labour as… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Precisely. The truth you state is the case for Independence and I am as frustrated as the next person that the apathy of so many will allow all that to happen.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

So, whats that, another 15 years and 80 billion power a light bulb. Meanwhile green can hit the floor running now.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

Really??

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

really.
(if in any doubt, break glass for extra “really”)

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Did Hitachi ever pay for the Wylfa site in the first place ? or was it a free issue from government ? No mention of how this deal compares with the original.

KC Gordon
KC Gordon
1 month ago

‘lasting into the next century” – neither Wylfa or Traws lasted 65 years!

karl
karl
1 month ago

Colonialism at its worst. We don’t need nuclear, but they will force it upon us. Can’t have electric generation i nthe home counties etc.

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  karl

Whether we agree with it or not it will be imposed on us regardless, as long as it serves the British Nationalist agenda.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Buying Wylfa means nothing. It’s all smoke and mirrors from the English Tories. Being mothballed could sit on the site for years. It’s plain electioneering. Pure desperation. And seeing it’s highly likely they’ll get kicked out of office in November, if there’s an election then, could be sooner, Labour will likely realise they’ve been left a poison chalice and nothing will be built. Also during the budget I saw that smug Virginia Crosbie in the House of Commons. Didn’t she look pleased with herself. What has she exactly done for Ynys Mon since becoming their MP?Absolutely nothing. The only one… Read more »

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
1 month ago

How will the UK government buying Wylfa bring nuclear power closer to happening? If a nuclear energy company couldn’t manage to build a nuclear reactor on the site then how is the UK government going to achieve it?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul ap Gareth

It gives them a foot on the neck of Ynys Mon and they will defend it like an occupying force…National Security

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

Does anybody out there still think we need Fision Power. We have wind, water and sun… and nowhere to safe to put the toxic waste. FFS

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago

Another form of colonisation- dontcha just feel like an native American, being handed beads and small-poxed blankets for the pleasure of the man

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
1 month ago

Nuclear power = a 1950s answer to a 21st century electrical energy generation crisis.

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