Wylfa nuclear plant: Political leaders welcome Hitachi deal
(GE Hitachi will pay almost £700m for the Horizon joint venture, which was set up in 2009 to build new nuclear plants to replace Magnox reactors)
Welsh political leaders have welcomed confirmation that Hitachi is to buy nuclear project Horizon, which includes plans for a new reactor on Anglesey.
Welsh Secretary David Jones called it a “huge boost”, while First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was “very good news for Wales and the UK”.
Up to 6,000 jobs could be created while the new reactors are built at Wylfa.
The Horizon development aims to build a new £8bn nuclear power station at Wylfa on the island.
“This is by any standards excellent news not just for Anglesey but for the whole of north Wales,” said the Welsh Secretary.
“It’s going to mean a major construction project with about 5,000 to 6,000 jobs created, about 1,200 long-term high-quality jobs and a huge boost not only to the economy of Anglesey but of course to the whole of the UK energy sector.”
He had previously said that securing a new nuclear station on Anglesey was “critical” to his economic efforts.
It is an area which has various difficulties when it comes to creating employment.Major employers such as Anglesey Aluminium and others have reduced the number of people they employ on the island over the last decade or so.Basically, Anglesey is looking at a new nuclear power station at Wylfa as a way of creating jobs. But I think everyone is aware of the fact that there’s a number of hurdles to overcome yet.One that has been speculated about in the papers is that Hitachi has got to get approval for its design of reactor before it can actually go ahead and build.It’s difficult to say whether that will make any difference when it comes to the timescale.Building isn’t going to start in 2012 which was the original plan so that presumably means having it open for 2020 is in doubt as well.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said he would continue to work with the UK government and Hitachi to secure the investment for Anglesey.
“The potential benefits of a new nuclear development on Anglesey would be substantial – not just in creating thousands of highly skilled jobs and boosting the supply chain – but in helping to secure our energy supply in the future,” he said.
Wylfa was one of a number of sites which was shortlisted for a new nuclear power station last year.
But in March this year, the two German companies behind the project – E.ON and RWE – announced they were pulling out.
They blamed the global economic crisis and Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident in Japan.
They have now sold the project to the Japanese company Hitachi for around £700m.
As well as the Wylfa plans, the deal also includes proposals for a new nuclear power station just over the Welsh border at Oldbury, in South Gloucestershire.
There is some opposition to nuclear power on Anglesey and there is likely to be controversy because Hitachi designed the Fukushima plant.
But Mr Jones said the design of the nuclear reactor on Anglesey was different to the one in Japan.
“You have to remember that there were specific conditions in Fukushima, for example the seismic conditions which don’t apply in Wales,” he said.
“But most of all there’s going to be a rigorous assessment process which will now be undergone which will last many years, maybe up to four years, and ensure that this is an absolutely safe reactor.
“So I think no-one need have any fears of the safety of what is proposed for Wylfa.”
The news has also been welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron who called it a “vote of confidence in the UK”.
Anglesey council leader Bryan Owen said the deal was a “massive boost” to the island’s economy and that of north Wales.
The existing Wylfa plant, which has been producing energy since 1971, is set to continue generating electricity until the fuel runs out or September 2014, whichever comes first.
Source: BBC News