Posted: Wed 22nd May 2024

Wylfa chosen as UK Government’s top site for “mega-nuclear” power plant

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Wylfa, 66 miles away on Anglesey, is UK Government’s “preferred site for the UK’s third mega-nuclear power station”.

The UK Government have said they are “….kickstarting talks with global energy firms to explore building the new power plant, which could provide enough clean, reliable and cheap power for 6 million homes for 60 years. It brings the UK closer to its target for a quarter of electricity to come from homegrown nuclear power by 2050 to strengthen the nation’s energy independence.

“The government is exploring building a major nuclear power station, similar in scale to Hinkley in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. This new project would revive the nuclear history of Wylfa and bring thousands of jobs and investment to the area, boosting the local economy. Wylfa, sitting on the North Wales coast, is ideally-suited to host one given its proximity to cooling water and nuclear heritage.

“Great British Nuclear – tasked with delivering the world’s fastest small modular reactor competition – recently secured Wylfa and Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire as two possible sites for new nuclear projects. It was the first time the government acquired land for new nuclear since the 1960s.”

Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, said: “We are powering ahead with the biggest expansion of nuclear energy in seventy years.
“Anglesey has a proud nuclear history and it is only right that, once again, it can play a central role in boosting the UK’s energy security.
“Wylfa would not only bring clean, reliable power to millions of homes – it could create thousands of well-paid jobs and bring investment to the whole of North Wales.”

The UK Government say the UK is delivering the biggest expansion to nuclear power in 70 years and suitable sites will be critical to meet ambitions to quadruple nuclear capacity by up to 24GW by 2050. This will come from a mix of traditional large-scale power plants and small modular reactors, which can be rolled out more quickly and at scale.

They say Wylfa is “well-suited for a large-scale nuclear project, given its proximity to water and nuclear history”.

Gwen Parry-Jones, CEO of Great British Nuclear, said: “Having agreed to purchase the Wylfa site earlier this year, GBN looks forward to working with the Government on the market engagement programme for large scale gigawatt providers and also delivering this vital project in the years to come.”

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “This is significant and welcome news for Wales that promises to bring thousands of high-quality jobs to the local economy.
“Alongside the revival of nuclear power at Wylfa, recent measures we have announced include a Freeport for Anglesey, £17m in Levelling Up money for Holyhead and electrification of the North Wales rail line which show that the UK Government continues to deliver for Anglesey and for North Wales.”

Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary of Prospect union, said: “Wylfa represents the best site in Europe for a large-scale nuclear power station. With this announcement this has now been recognised by the UK government.
“Gigawatt scale new nuclear power stations are vital to hitting net zero and for our energy security. But they also maintain 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 delivery of new nuclear to make sure skills and experience are not lost, and costs are reduced as we progress.”

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the NIA said: “The Government is absolutely right to pursue more large-scale nuclear alongside the SMR programme: it is proven technology that delivers clean, sovereign power and can transform communities with thousands of high quality, long term jobs and apprenticeships. Wylfa is an ideal place for a big nuclear project, and the community knows nuclear.
“We welcome the Government’s engagement with potential partners internationally, and we urge them to move forward at pace. A large-scale project at Wylfa would be the single biggest inward investment in Welsh history, and a huge step towards both energy security and net zero for the whole country.”

Responding to the government’s announcement on nuclear at Wylfa, Labour’s Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens said: “Any progress is welcome but people on Ynys Môn will believe it when they see it. Successive Tory governments have failed to build a single nuclear power plant that will provide lower carbon power, boost energy security and create jobs.

“It’s been five years since Ministers sat back and watched as the previous plans for Wylfa fell through. That project would have been 50% completed by now, and we’d be seeing the benefits of thousands of construction jobs with almost a thousand more permanent jobs on the way.

“After 14 years it’s high time people had a UK government they could rely on to deliver. Labour will back the building of new nuclear in places like Wylfa, unlocking the transformative potential of investment and jobs the Tories have left dormant.”

(Top pic from ONR)

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