Planning Inspectorate officials have completed their examination of plans for the £20bn Hitachi-backed Wylfa nuclear power plant in North Wales.
Officials will rule on a development consent order (DCO) application for the project in three months. If the Planning Inspectorate approves the DCO, the project must also be approved by business secretary Greg Clark before it can go ahead.
Introduced in 2008, DCOs are designed to streamline construction planning for projects designated as nationally significant by rolling other individual consents such as planning permission, listed building consent and compulsory purchase orders into one.
The decision to continue with the DCO application for Wylfa comes despite work on the site remaining suspended – work was stopped in January when Hitachi struggled to secure additional private investment in the project.
Hitachi is developing the project through its nuclear subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power and has already invested £2bn in the project.
The UK government has been trying to forge a new funding deal with the Japanese giant. Welsh secretary Alun Cairns met with Hitachi officials in Japan earlier this year, and chancellor Philip Hammond has said that the government is now working on a new financing model for the project in an attempt to persuade Hitachi to reconsider its decision.
The plant will provide 2.9GW to the National Grid and hundreds of jobs for the Isle of Anglesey in Wales.
The local government in Anglesey has suggested replacing the Wylfa project with other renewable energy projects.
Horizon executive director, safety, licensing and quality Anthony Webb has previously told New Civil Engineer that an approved DCO could give the project a running start if work resumes.
“Completing this phase of the DCO does not change the overall decision to suspend wider activities, but it will help give the best chance of a restart for the project at Wylfa Newydd, which remains the premier nuclear new build site in the UK,” he said.
“We’d like to thank all our stakeholders for their strong support of Wylfa Newydd, including the conclusion of the DCO activities.”
Wylfa’s suspension was a major blow for North Wales, as the plant’s construction and operation would have added 9,000 jobs to the region.
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