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Government outlines public liability at Wylfa nuclear plant

Wylfa Newydd Nuclear power station 3to2

Government has outlined public liability in the event of an accident at Wylfa nuclear power station, amid concerns that taxpayers will be left to pick up the bill. 

Nuclear operators must have insurance, energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry told parliament, and any costs more than €1.5bn (£1.33bn) would be “met at parliament’s discretion”.

The Westminster Hall debate followed a report in the Times  that claimed Japanese company Hitachi would not pay for any accidents at the proposed plant in Anglesey, north Wales.

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said: “There were some questions about liability in the event of an accident. I am happy to say that the last significant incident was the Windscale fire in 1957, and we are light years away from that plant in terms of nuclear operating technology and the safety regime that we operate.

“The Nuclear Installations Act 1965 makes the insurance that I mentioned a requirement, without which operators cannot operate. As the hon. Member for Southampton, Test mentioned, we also have legislation based on the Paris and Brussels conventions.

“If the total cost of claims ever exceeded €1.2 billion, a further €300 million would be provided by all contracting parties to the Brussels supplementary convention. Any further claims above that total would be met at Parliament’s discretion.”

Alan Brown MP said: “It marks a departure from the “polluter pays” principle. It is critical that the UK Government do not sign up to any such crazy proposals.”

The government is in “commercial negotiations” with Hitachi over the plans, and will take a £5bn stake in the project.

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