Welsh minister for economy, transport and North Wales Ken Skates MS has described news that Hitachi has withdrawn from the Wylfa Newydd project to build a £15bn-£20bn nuclear power plant on Anglesey as “deeply disappointing”.
The Tokyo-based company said today that it would be permanently scrapping plans for the Wylfa power station after the project was suspended in January last year when Hitachi failed to reach a funding agreement with the UK government.
Skates stressed that the site is “one of the best sites in the UK for new nuclear development”, and said the Welsh government will “work with our partners to explore all other options… to deliver a sustainable future for the site”.
Commenting on the news today, Skates said: “There has been a tremendous effort by Horizon Nuclear Power, Ynys Mon Council, the North Wales region and all our partners to bring this important project forward.
“Now is the time to continue with this strong partnership and build upon those efforts. We must not lose sight that Wylfa remains one the best sites in the UK for new nuclear development.
“We will work with our partners to explore all other options, including internationally with key allies, to deliver a sustainable future for the site.
“This must build on the skills and the supply chain capability we have in the region and across Wales. It places us in a robust position to benefit from existing and future opportunities within the nuclear sector.”
He added: “We will also continue to press the UK government to make their commitment clear on Wylfa. We must all work together to realise the potential this site has to transform the economy of North West Wales and significantly contribute towards net-zero carbon.”
The withdrawal from Hitachi has dashed hopes for thousands of jobs. Developers had said the plant would have created up to 9,000 jobs during the construction phase alone, and that the station would have had a 60-year operational life.
The plant would also have provided 6% of Britain’s electricity. The Welsh Affairs Committee described the news from the company this morning as a “blow for Wales and the UK’s ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”.
Shadow minister for energy and a green new deal Alan Whitehead said: “The cancellation of what would have been the largest energy project in Wales, if it cannot be reversed, could have huge consequences including the loss of between £15bn and £20bn in investment. It will also prevent the creation of thousands of jobs in the energy sector and wider UK supply chain.
“We are already in the middle of an economic and unemployment crisis, yet the government has been completely silent on the potential loss of this power station and the economic impact for Anglesey and the region.
“Ministers must urgently outline whether they plan to seek new developers to take on the Wylfa project, what conversations they have had with Hitachi about the site, and how they will ensure the people of Wales do not pay the price for Hitachi’s withdrawal.”
Hitachi had said in June that it was hoping to secure more funding from the UK government to resume the project. Anglesey council has called for a meeting with the Welsh and UK governments to discuss the future of the site.