Reports in Japan have raised questions over the future of the £20bn Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant on Anglesey with claims that the project’s main backer Hitachi could be set to back out.
In a second major blow to the North West’s new nuclear programme, after fellow Japanese company Toshiba pulled out of Moorside in Cumbria, reports in the Japanese press claim Hitachi is set to scrap its investment in Wylfa Newydd.
Negotiations between the UK Government and Hitachi are still ongoing and business secretary Greg Clark signalled his backing for the proposals in June this year. Since then, Hitachi has moved the project forward after the Planning Inspectorate backed Hitachi’s development consent order, which would allow construction to begin.
In August, global construction and engineering firm Bechtel was named as project manager for the £20bn scheme, which is expected to require 9,000 workers on site during peak construction in 2023.
Under the current plans, the plant will be built by 2027 and will provide 2.9GW of energy using two reactors, the design of which was approved by authorities in late 2017.
Hitachi’s development company for the nuclear plant, Horizon, said it would not comment on “speculation”, but trade union GMB has called for “urgent clarification” on the future of the plant.
Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “Reports Hitachi might pull out of the Wylfa project require urgent clarification and – if necessary – immediate action by the Government.
“If true, the consequences would be catastrophic for Wales and the UK’s future energy policy.
“With coal and the existing nuclear fleet all going offline in the next decade or so, alternative reliable base load capacity from new nuclear is vital to keep the lights on and the economy functioning.
“This Government has a track record of dithering when it comes to our vital future energy needs.
“Now is not the time for anything other than immediate and decisive action – including stepping in and taking over the project if needed.”