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Work at Wylfa nuclear plant could be paused

Wylfa aerial cgi 3 by 2

Works at Wyfla Newydd nuclear plant on Anglesey could be paused as Hitachi seeks extra funding for the project. 

Parent company Hitachi could stop work on the site unless further funding can be found. It comes after talks between prime ministers Theresa May and Shinzo Abe this week in which the plant was described as being “strategically important” 

Japan’s leading financial media outlet, the Nikkei Asian Review, reported that Hitachi could be planning to halt all works on the Horizon managed site in Wales, including design and preparations for construction as negotiations to secure additional funding from the UK government hit an impasse.  

Hitachi’s board is expected to officially decide next week the future of the project. 

The original agreement for the project saw the UK put up two-thirds of the project cost, around £14bn. The remaining third was to be financed by Hitachi and private investors. Concerns have also surfaced over increasing construction costs.

The halt comes just as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe completes his visit to the United Kingdom. 

A spokesperson for 10 Downing Street told New Civil Engineer that the project was one of the topics of discussion between the prime ministers during Abe’s visit this week with the Japanese leader calling the project “strategically important”. 

The project at Wylfa Newydd is being managed by Hitachi and its nuclear subsidiary Horizon and is one of last remaining Japanese nuclear projects left in the UK after the failure of Toshiba’s NuGen last year.   

A Horizon spokesperson told New Civil Engineer that financing “must be concluded” before any work begins. 

“Since the secretary of state’s statement to the House [of Commons] in June last year we’ve been in formal negotiations with the UK Government regarding financing of the Wylfa Newydd project in a way that works both for investors and the UK electricity customer,” the spokesperson said.

“This is one of the aspects of the project development phase that must be concluded before construction of Wylfa Newydd can go ahead, but the discussions are commercially confidential and we won’t be commenting on rumours or speculation.”

A Welsh Government statement described the news as “worrying”.

“This is a major project with significant economic benefits to Wales and rest of the country,” a spokesperson said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation very carefully and press the UK Government do to everything it can to help bring this project to Anglesey.”

In December, Asian Review reported that Hitachi was going to reach out to the UK government for more funding, after failing to secure additional private investment in the project.   

At a news conference last month, Hitachi chief executive Toshiaki Higashihara confirmed the Wylfa project could be halted.   

“Hitachi is a private company,” he said, “and there is a limit to how much risk it can take. If the project is not economically rational, it is possible that the project will be halted.”

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