Wylfa: UK government in talks to buy nuclear site – report

Wylfa: UK government in talks to buy nuclear site - report
Wylfa Nuclear Power Station at Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, North WalesGetty Images

The UK government is reportedly in talks to take control of a site in north Wales where a planned nuclear project was scrapped in 2019.

State-owned Great British Nuclear is “in early discussions” with Hitachi, which owns the land at Wylfa, on Anglesey, the Financial Times reported.

A government spokesman said Wylfa was one of many “potential sites” that could host nuclear projects.

Hitachi abandoned its plans there in January 2019.

An unnamed minister told the FT that “tentative negotiations” with Hitachi had already begun, but said a deal might not be reached until after a general election expected later this year.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, welcomed news of the talks, describing Wylfa as “one of the very best sites for new nuclear in the UK”.

“The success of ramping up nuclear to the levels needed for energy security and net zero rests a great deal on whether we develop at Wylfa,” he said.

Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, where the Wylfa site is located, also welcomed the development and said she would “continue to keep the pressure up until contracts are signed”.

“The nuclear industry is unanimous that Wylfa is the best site in Europe for large-scale nuclear,” she said, adding that it would be “the largest inward investment” in Welsh history and “transformational” for the people of north-west Wales.

Critics of the project have said it was too expensive and raised concerns about environmental impacts.

Hitachi, which has also suspended work on another site it owns in Oldbury, Gloucestershire, said it would “continue to speak with interested parties about the future for the sites”.

In January 2019, Hitachi said it was suspending work at the £13bn Wylfa Newydd plant because of rising costs.

It had been in talks with the UK government about funding for the project, which failed to materialise.

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

The UK government said that while no decisions on sites have yet been taken, it was “working with Great British Nuclear to support access to potential sites for new nuclear projects”.

“Wylfa is one of a number of potential sites that could host civil nuclear projects,” a spokesman for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said.

Nuclear power is planned to be a key part of the UK’s energy mix, and the spokesman added the department had recently launched a roadmap “setting out the biggest expansion of the sector in 70 years”.

A key benefit of nuclear energy is that it produces little of the CO2 emissions that cause climate change, but critics have raised concerns about issues such as what to do with nuclear waste.

Source: bbc.co.uk

By David Ryckman