Nuclear power: Wylfa on Anglesey chosen as site for new power station – BBC News

Image caption, Wylfa’s previous power station stopped generating energy in 2015

  • Author, Huh Thomas
  • Role, BBC Wales business correspondent

Wylfa on Anglesey has been chosen as the preferred site for a large-scale nuclear power station, the UK government has said.

International energy companies have started talks with the British government to begin construction of the new Wylfa plant.

British Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho said the site would create “thousands of well-paid jobs”.

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies says he will not “put a date” on when a power station could be built and ready for production, but he said “Wylfa is destined to have a nuclear power station”.

Asked whether a new power station would be ready by 2040, he said: “Traditionally this takes a long time.”

Mr Davies said several international energy companies were interested in investing in the site.

Speaking on Radio Wales Breakfast, he said he had met representatives of South Korean energy company Kepco ‘informally’ at a dinner.

He said they were “very interested” but there were “the right channels to go through”.

Wylfa’s new power station would be of a similar size to the new plant at Hinkley in Somerset and the proposed Sizewell development in Suffolk.

The site is on the north coast of Anglesey and had its first nuclear power station in the early 1970s.

The UK government wants to quadruple nuclear power capacity by up to 25 gigawatts by 2050 with a new fleet of plants, as older plants reach the end of their operations.

Image caption, Energy Minister Claire Coutinho praised Anglesey’s “proud nuclear history” in choosing Wylfa as the government’s preferred location

“Anglesey has a proud nuclear history and it is only right that the country can once again play a central role in increasing Britain’s energy security,” Coutinho said.

She added that Wylfa would bring “clean, reliable power” to millions of homes and create “thousands of well-paid jobs” and investment for North Wales.

Wylfa’s previous power station stopped generating energy at the end of 2015.

Japanese operator Hitachi canceled plans for a new nuclear reactor in 2020 and mothballed the site.

During the spring budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the operator had sold the site to the British government.

Ministers also purchased a separate site from Hitchai in Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

Great British Nuclear, the government body charged with delivering more nuclear power, has overseen the purchase of both sites and is considering the use of small modular reactors as part of the UK’s nuclear power supply, as well as large-scale power stations.

Gwen Parry-Jones, CEO of Great British Nuclear, said it was looking forward to “the market engagement programme” for large-scale gigawatt suppliers.

Jo Stevens, the Welsh Labor Party’s shadow secretary, said that “any progress is welcome” but that the people of Anglesey “will believe it when they see it”.

“It has been five years since ministers sat back and watched the previous plans for Wylfa fail,” she said.

“That project would now be 50% complete, and we would see the benefits of thousands of construction jobs, with nearly a thousand permanent jobs still on the way.”

Image caption, Wylfa would operate on a similar scale to the new Hinkley Point C power station, currently under construction in Somerset

Analysis by Gareth Lewis, BBC Political Editor

This kind of thing looks good in an election year. And this is a constituency that the Conservatives, Labor and Plaid Cymru will fight over.

Nuclear projects bring prestige, the promise of thousands of jobs, they help achieve green goals and they look big and shiny – at least in an artist’s impression.

Wylfa has been here before. The brave new nuclear dawn on Anglesey always has a dark cloud of bitter past experiences looming on the horizon.

Today is one step, and there will be many more to come in the coming decades, especially on the cost front… long after the 2024 general election, that’s history for the ages.

‘A dinosaur that should not be brought back to life’

People Against Wylfa B (Pawb), a campaign group opposing nuclear power on Anglesey, called it a “dinosaur” that “should not be resurrected”.

The group called for more investment in sustainable energy projects that instead use wind, solar and hydropower.

Pawb member Linda Rodgers said the site could not be built in time to combat the climate crisis.

“We need to invest in the kind of jobs and energy supplies that are sustainable and can be built quickly,” she said.

A partnership between Bechtel and Westinghouse has also expressed interest in building the new Wylfa factory.

Prospect, one of the unions representing workers in the nuclear industry, said Wylfa was the “best location in Europe” for large-scale nuclear power.

The union’s deputy general secretary, Sue Ferns, said: “New gigawatt-scale nuclear power stations are vital to achieving net zero and for our energy security.

‘But they will also retain well-paid and highly skilled jobs, meaning this project would be a major boost to the Welsh economy.

“Now we need a laser-like focus on the delivery of new nuclear energy to ensure that skills and experience are not lost and costs are reduced as we move forward.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *