Prospects for a new nuclear power station in North Wales have risen after it appeared to win the backing of a UK government minister. Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has given his backing to a proposal to build on the site of the former Wyfla nuclear power station in Anglesey.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Wylfa was in “serious talks” with US electrical and engineering giants Westinghouse and Bechtel when he visited in late January. If two reactors were built, the UK’s energy capacity would be increased by 2.3 gigawatts.
Engineers have decommissioned the old power station at Wylfa, near Amlwch, which closed seven years ago. Plans to build a second power plant on the site were halted in early 2019.
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But the Telegraph reported yesterday that Anglesey could be the first place to welcome a new wave of nuclear power. The program would be supported by the UK government’s Future Nuclear Enabling Fund.
Westinghouse would be responsible for the technology and Bechtel, a construction company, for the construction itself. Welsh secretary Simon Hart reportedly discussed the project with the US ambassador in London.
He is expected to visit one of Westinghouse’s nuclear power plants during an official trip to the United States later this week. Mr Hart told the Telegraph: “Wales is best placed to drive this nuclear growth.
“For large-scale nuclear, like Hinkley Point, Wylfa Newydd offers an unparalleled opportunity, and it continues to attract the attention of nuclear developers from key allies around the world.
“Local support is resolute, and this is an infrastructure project that could transform the whole of North Wales while creating thousands of jobs in the process.
“The ruthless Russian invasion of Ukraine has put national energy security back on the agenda of countries around the world, and although the UK depends on Russia for only a small part of our supply, it is also high on the UK government’s agenda.
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“Yes, it is true that other countries are in a much more precarious position, but we in the UK government are taking the situation very seriously.
“We need to regain control of our energy supplies, and we need low-carbon energy more than ever.”
The prime minister is due to make an announcement on nuclear energy in the new energy strategy this week. He will explain how the UK can accelerate its drive towards energy independence by ending Russian oil and gas imports after the invasion of Ukraine.
Seven large nuclear power plants could be built, along with a string of modular nuclear reactors that would require smaller sites. The former site of the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station near Blaenau Ffestiniog is said to be in the running for one of these reactors.
Any proposal would likely draw protests from anti-nuclear activists.
Dylan Morgan of PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) warned that “nuclear energy is a dirty, obsolete, dangerous and extremely expensive technology that threatens both human and environmental health”.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said nuclear power was “the wrong answer” to Wales’ energy needs.