'More commitment' to new Wylfa nuclear plant urged

time:2023-06-03 01:37:53source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center7

UK ministers must show "more concrete commitment" to building a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey, a cross-party group of MPs has said.

Their report said it was "difficult to see" how government nuclear ambitions could be achieved otherwise.

Welsh Affairs Committee chairman Stephen Crabb said a big Wylfa nuclear project would be a "gamechanger".

The UK government said new body Great British Nuclear would help it secure access to new nuclear sites.

Wylfa, said ministers, was a "contender given the strong support it has from the local community".

In April 2022, the government launched its Energy Security Strategy, with Wylfa mentioned as one of the sites that could get the go-ahead for a new nuclear development.

Under the plan, nuclear will supply 24 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2050, around 25% of the UK's predicted energy demand.

In their report looking at nuclear energy in Wales, the MPs said that Hitachi's scrapped bid to bring a new nuclear project to Wylfa in 2020 had left "scars on the local community".

"We are concerned that expectations are being raised again on Ynys Môn and question how long the uncertainty can continue about whether or not a new nuclear build will be delivered at Wylfa."

The MPs said that in their view "Wylfa should be the location of the next gigawatt-scale nuclear generation plant after Sizewell C", but that before any development can progress a number of challenges must be overcome.

The land at Wylfa is still owned by Hitachi and the report calls on the UK government to encourage Hitachi to sell it or join other developers to enable future development to proceed.

The report acknowledges that financing new nuclear projects is "not straightforward" and "important issues still remain regarding financial commitment".

The MPs' report also said more commitment is required from the UK government.

"While we welcome what feels like small steps in the right direction towards new nuclear at Wylfa, we do still question how much further down the path we are now to seeing a successful development than we were when Hitachi withdrew from the site."

They added that in their view "new nuclear at Wylfa is not certain despite progress being made".

Committee chairman and Conservative MP Mr Crabb said Wylfa had been "in a state of limbo" for decades.

"Despite the positive policy changes and stronger rhetoric from ministers about nuclear, a new power station at Wylfa is still far from certain.

"Important obstacles remain on financing which is limiting private sector investment, and on the issue of land ownership which is preventing a new developer coming in.

"We must see concrete action on addressing these issues before the next general election, otherwise the uncertainty about the project will increase."

He added that a large scale development would be a "gamechanger" for the Welsh economy and urged ministers to give the project a "green light".

However Linda Rogers, from the campaign group People against Wylfa-B, criticised the committee's report.

"For some reason the Welsh Affairs Committee, despite all the problems outlined with nuclear, say we still want the uncertainty around it solved and they say we can't go with renewable because of a lack of storage," she said.

"Well, we can invest in storage, we can invest in a flexible grid.

"It's so much cheaper and safer and quicker that nuclear and of course we don't have the massive legacy, toxic legacy, of waste to hand over to future generations."

A UK government spokesperson said: "Nuclear is a key part of our energy security and our plan to deliver lower energy bills.

"The recently launched Great British Nuclear, alongside wider Government support, will be delivering these ambitions including how we look to secure access to new nuclear sites with Wylfa being a contender given the strong support it has from the local community."

Related content
Recommended content