Welsh MPs told UK Government must back nuclear power plans with funding
The launch of a UK Government nuclear programme to tackle the energy crisis has been hampered by constant changes to the Tory hierarchy in Westminster, Welsh MPs have been told.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to launch Great British Nuclear last April to bolster the UK’s nuclear capacity with the hope of up to 24 gigawatts (GW) of electricity being generated by 2050.
At the same time, the new energy strategy confirmed the intention to push ahead with a nuclear project at the Wylfa site on the island of Anglesey.
Overall Mr Johnson’s strategy set out plans to deliver up to eight reactors, which along with offshore wind farms, would reduce the UK’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.
The UK Government appointed Simon Bowen as Industry Adviser to lead the set-up of the new Great British Nuclear body, charged with helping nuclear projects through the development process.
Giving evidence to Welsh MPs in the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee, Mr Bowen spoke of the many obstacles which are preventing the development of new nuclear facilities in Wales.
In order to make progress, Mr Bowen said, the current UK Tory Government needs to decide what it wants and how it will be funded.
One of the major obstacles still to be resolved is UK Government funding.
Mr Bowen said there is “continual dialogue” with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as well as “active conversations with the Treasury.
“We fully understand that the fiscal environment is very challenging at the moment, and we have said that you cannot set up GBN without the funding to support the development of the project.”
However, said Mr Bowen: “There is no point in setting up an organisation just so that the organisation can work out how it is going to operate, because that does not deliver any outcomes.”
He stressed the point: “What it has to have is adequate funding, and because the fiscal environment is the way it is, we understand that those discussions have been difficult and protracted.”
Conservative Ynys Môn MP Virgina Crosbie says she is working hard to deliver a firm commitment to new nuclear at Wylfa from UK Government.
She said: “The formation of Great British Nuclear is absolutely crucial if we want to get all of those jobs and investment into Wales.”
To date the current UK Tory Government under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is yet to decide which type of new nuclear it wants.
Simon Bowen said: “(There) are policy decisions, and as soon as they are made, then we can start to move forward.”
At the end of January, trade union, nuclear industry representatives and a group of politicians sent an open letter to Prime Minister Sunak pressing the need for the UK government to urgently launch a fully-funded Great British Nuclear (GBN) programme to tackle the energy crisis.
In May 2022, Mr Bowen said he was tasked with producing a report for Prime Minister Johnson.
“There was a 100-day sprint where we pulled in a group of experts from industry and from the civil service. Unfortunately, when we handed the report in, or a number of days before that, Prime Minister Johnson resigned.
“It then went into the Truss Government, and subsequently, Prime Minister Sunak and Chancellor Hunt are now involved in the decision making.”
Mr Bowen warned Welsh MPs: “No decision is a decision in itself. The international market is moving on.
“There are multiple projects across Europe, and there are multiple projects in the US.
“Unless we get on with it, there will not be any other external technologies to bring in, and Rolls-Royce will not have a market to export to because all of that will be filled. That is the big concern.”
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Virginia Crosby should know that the nuclear industry is the most expensive means of employing people. If it really employment she is seeking, then just about anything else would be cheaper. Ms Crosby appears to be one of the technocratic new breed – total confidence in anything gee-whiz and ignores the whiz-bang. Cymru does not need nuclear – we have enough green renewables. As Richard Murphy in The National says today, Scotland could become an energy powerhouse but not within the union. Same for us, if we really want to screw up our environment that much – with large-scale transmission… Read more »
Yes I agree with Neil. I’ve never understood why the English want to put power-stations in Wales, to supply over-populated England? If the English think they are so fit to rule from Westminster, then why aren’t they able to look after their own people within England? It sounds like expansionism to me. And if we allow one power-station, then the English will only get greedy and want to build more, as in the case of their reservoir-building. As there is such a strong move towards Scots, Irish and Welsh Independence recently, then this latest idea seems an insult to the… Read more »
It is obvious that the strategy to build nuclear power plants here is to tie us even closer to England, as has been pointed out several times, we in Cymru only use half of the current power generated here, so we clearly do not need nuclear plants built here, England are in need not us, so why not build in England to satisfy Englands needs.
There’s over 6 decades of nuclear waste that will need dealing with as it will remain hazardous for thousands of years.
Spending money on more nuclear power is a dumb move – expensive and environmentally hazardous, especially given the falling price of producing renewable electricity.
My goodness that Virginia Crosbie has the sort of face that would fit as a clerk in a tax-office, not as an mp? She looks like someone who has not an ounce of imagination to me. And the fact she has broad-cast she’s going to need police-protection as an mp seems to be broad-casting her gross insensitivity to the Cymry at the same time! If we have many more like her in here I can’t imagine what Cymru will look like soon?
The ONLY commitment that has ever been made for the Wylfa site is that it would be included in considerations. The wording in the British Energy Security Strategy is explicitly clear. Other than that it’s just another former power station
Wales can reach net zero using just offshore wind, and associated storage and balancing, so has no need for other forms of generation, but can have them if we want them. However … why is so little offshore development being allowed in Welsh seas compared to English and Scottish seas?