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Welsh new nuclear value must be proven, say MPs

Wylfa aerial cgi 3 by 2

MPs say the the economic case for a new nuclear power plant at Wylfa Newydd in North Wales must be clearly spelt out.

They urged the government to agree a lower strike price, or agreed energy sale price, than that which was agreed for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.

A report by the Commons cross party Welsh Affairs Committee makes several recommendations for the Wylfa plant on Anglesey, which is awaiting the go-ahead from the government.

These include developing a contingency plan if delays to the project result in power shortages. They also called for a clear explaination of the lifetime cost of the plant and comparing it with other renewable sources.

The report says: “We recommend that the government negotiate a strike price for Wylfa Newydd below that agreed for Hinkley Point C and seek a price that would be competitive with renewable sources, such as on-shore wind. The Government should not continue with the project if the price is too high.”

In May, Wylfa developers Horizon Nuclear Power confirmed that Menter Newydd, a joint venture of US giant Bechtel, Japanese firm JGC Corporation and Hitachi Nuclear Energy, is to deliver the build.

The report recommendsed that local businesses are helped to become part of the supply chain by being given access to more industry resources. It also calls for a clear explanation of the skills required by Hitachi-owned Horizon, so that appropriate training can be given to local workers. Workers coming in from outside the area should also be offered Welsh language lessons by Horizon to immerse help them understand local culture, the report says.

The report urges the government to set up a North Wales branch of the National Nuclear College so that local skills can be developed.

In addition, the report suggests that the disused nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd – currently being decommissioned –  be designated as a site for a first-of-its kind Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

Committee chair David TC Davies said: “We know that proposals for new nuclear power plants cause concern amongst the general public. During this inquiry we have been impressed by the level of scrutiny of nuclear power and are reassured that the highest safety standards are followed. The key questions that need to be answered for future development of nuclear power at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd to be viable centre on value for money and local impact.

“The Government must prove that the cost of any nuclear development is well understood and competitive with renewable sources. These costs must be made public in a format that can be easily understood.

“There has to be a demonstrable benefit for the local community as well. Local businesses must form a key part of the supply-chain and be given sufficient information to allow this to happen. We must also make use of the many skilled nuclear workers currently based in Wales, and provide sufficient training to develop the next generation.”

A Horizon spokesman said: “We welcome the committee’s report and its endorsement of the important role Wylfa Newydd will play locally and nationally. The report notes the significant positive opportunities the project will bring to Anglesey and North Wales, in terms of jobs, skills, and investment, as well as the vital part it will play in the UK’s energy mix, providing safe and clean power for five million homes.

“It also contains a number of important recommendations, particularly with regards to delivering the benefits of the project locally. This is something to which we are absolutely committed, and, working alongside Isle of Anglesey County Council, Welsh Government and others, we will ensure that thousands more local people and companies join those from the island and region already working on the project.”





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