Hitachi today officially announced it is withdrawing from Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey as it steps back from investment in UK nuclear.
The nuclear plant was tipped to bring hundreds of skilled long term jobs to Anglesey but was placed on hold by the Japanese company in January 2019.
Planning for the site continued with hopes it could be restarted but yesterday North Wales Live revealed Hitachi was preparing to walk away from the site.
Hitachi today confirmed that it will “end business operations on the nuclear power plant construction project in the United Kingdom”.
Here’s how governments, industry and unions reacted.
UK Government response
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We recognise that this will be very disappointing news for the people of North Wales.
“Nuclear power will play a key role in the UK’s future energy mix as we transition to a low-carbon economy, including through our investments in small and advanced modular reactors.
“That’s why we previously offered a significant package of potential support to this project that went well beyond what any government has been willing to consider in the past.
“This included taking a one third equity stake, providing all of the required debt financing to complete construction, and providing generous financial support through our Contract for Difference scheme.
“We remain willing to discuss new nuclear projects with any viable companies and investors wishing to develop sites in the UK, including in North Wales.”
Welsh Government response
Minister for Economy and North Wales Ken Skates said: “The news from Hitachi today is deeply disappointing.
“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.
“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”
Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “Today’s announcement is disappointing news which nevertheless underscores the urgent need for progress on new nuclear projects in the UK if net zero carbon emissions is to become a reality.
“It is welcome news that Hitachi and Horizon will co-ordinate with the UK government and other relevant organisations over the handling of sites and possible future options. Wylfa is probably the best site in the UK for new nuclear capacity, and has strong community and stakeholders support on Ynys Mon.
“It is imperative that a way forward is found for the site, to deliver thousands of jobs, hundreds of apprenticeships and millions of pounds of investment into an economic boost for the area while delivering secure, reliable and low carbon power to underpin the UK’s transition to net zero.
“The nuclear industry has a bright future in this country: investing in emissions free, reliable and secure nuclear power will cut emissions and create the skilled, long-term jobs we need for a green recovery. No electricity generation source has saved as much carbon as nuclear power has, while generating skilled, stable and long term employment.
“The Government can secure these economic and environmental opportunities for future generations by setting out a clear pathway for new nuclear power in forthcoming policy announcements.”
In reaction to today’s news that Hitachi is withdrawing from the Wylfa Newydd nuclear build project, Peter Hughes Unite Wales Secretary said:
“This is devastating news for the Welsh economy and in particular that of North West Wales. The future regeneration on the region has been based upon the bedrock that Wylfa Newydd would proceed.
“Hitachi withdrawing from Wylfa is confirmation that this landmark development is dead and buried. This is a hammer blow to the future prospects of some of most economically deprived communities in the whole of Wales.
“Successive Conservative Governments must shoulder a massive share of the blame for today’s news. They never fully committed themselves to pushing through Wylfa Newydd. Yet again when it comes to standing up for Wales and supporting landmark infrastructure projects here they have failed miserably.”
People Against Wylfa B
People Against Wylfa B (PAWB) said: “As expected Hitachi is to abandon all plans to build a nuclear power station at Wylfa.
“Well over a decade has been wasted by our politicians in supporting Wylfa B. For years, PAWB has agreed with experts around the world who warned that massive nuclear projects are unlikely to be commercially successful.
“All of the nuclear industry’s arguments have been negated by the growth of sustainable methods of energy production for continually falling costs. This is the reality that has been ignored, while still believing in the promises of jobs.
“Anglesey’s economic future has been put in the hands of a few people in a room in Tokyo.
“The hopes of a generation of young people for work in their home area were shattered.
“The Gwynedd and Anglesey Joint Local Development Plan, and the North Wales Growth Plan, assumed that Wylfa B would happen, and that it would be a good thing.
“We call on the Councils and the Welsh Government to start from scratch with these plans.”
Conservative Ynys Mon MP Virginia Crosbie said: “It is with great disappointment that I have received this news. Over the past few months I have been working hard with Horizon and other key stakeholders locally and nationally to promote and support this project. With the DCO due on 30th September and the UK Government’s Energy White Paper schedule for release in the Autumn, the timing of the news is regrettable.
“I am in talks with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister about the matter.
“I know that many people on Ynys Môn will feel disillusioned to hear that there has been another setback in the plans for Wylfa. However, I remain committed to my manifesto pledge to bring quality jobs, skilled employment and investment to Ynys Môn.
“I still believe that the Wylfa site offers great opportunities for the UK Government to deliver both its levelling-up agenda and net-zero carbon objectives.
“It is a prime location for a nuclear energy plant and I welcome the news that Horizon intends to keep the lines of communication open. I will continue to work with them, local stakeholders and the UK Government to look at alternative options for the site.”
Plaid AM Rhun ap Iorweth said: “Horizon were saying as recently as the last few weeks that their parent company, Hitachi, were still hopeful of winning the support of UK Government. Obviously, that support hasn’t been secured, and the hopes of those who wanted to see a new nuclear power station developed at Wylfa have been raised and dashed once again. To me, this was the danger in relying too much on external investment and on the ability of UK Government to deliver.
“While there will need to be urgent consideration now on alternative options for the site, there must be a step up also in the work to secure other opportunities for the island, including in fields that I am very supportive of such as tidal energy, hydrogen energy and advanced technologies in M-Sparc, for example. I will be pressing Welsh Government to respond to that challenge as a matter of urgency.
“I am also looking forward to seeing Plaid Cymru establishing the headquarters of a new national energy company for Wales on the island in future.”
-- to www.dailypost.co.uk