The subsidiary of Japan’s Hitachi has withdrawn its application to build the £20bn Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant on Anglesey after failing to reach a deal with other parties to take over the stalled development.
Horizon Nuclear Power, which was set up to advance nuclear development in the UK, was to build the plant at Wylfa, along with a smaller plant at Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire.
However, it halted works on both projects in January 2019 and concluded last September that it was unable to progress the schemes for viability reasons. It said it would take steps for the “orderly closing down” of all its development activities at the two sites by 31 March 2021.
Horizon and the UK Government was in talks with prospective parties – including a consortium led by US engineering firm Bechtel – that were interested in taking over the stalled scheme.
In December, the Government approved Horizon’s request to defer the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to grant a development order to the scheme until 30 March, to give it time to find another developer to deliver the scheme and secure the consent.
But a deal has yet to be reached, and in a letter dated 27 January, Horizon wrote to the Planning Inspectorate asking to withdraw the application entirely.
“As you know, Hitachi announced the suspension of the project in January 2019 and its intent to withdraw entirely in September 2020,” the letter said. “In light of this, and in the absence of a new funding policy from HM Government, Hitachi has taken the decision to wind up Horizon as an active development entity by 31 March.
“In previous correspondence I referred to discussions with third parties that have
expressed an interest in progressing with the development of new nuclear generation at the Wylfa Newydd site in Anglesey, Wales following the withdrawal of Hitachi.
“While these discussions with multiple parties have been positive and encouraging with regards to developing a way forward, they have not, unfortunately, led to any definitive proposal that would have allowed the transfer of the sites to some new development entity willing to replace Hitachi.
“As a result, we must now, regretfully, withdraw the application submitted on 1 June 2018 for the Wylfa Newydd project.”
Anglesey Council has previously said in statements that “Wylfa is one of the best sites for new nuclear development in Europe and its future development has the potential to bring huge economic rewards and job opportunities for our young people over the next 60 years”.
Anglesey Council leader, Cllr Llinos Medi, said this week that the council was “extremely disappointed” by the decision. “This is a real blow for future economic prosperity of the Island, our young people and the communities of North Anglesey,” Medi said.
“We simply cannot let these long years of effort and hard work be for nothing – our young people and communities expect and deserve far better opportunities.”
“The Wylfa site still remains one of the best in Europe and I would now urge the UK Government to work towards securing a credible way of financing new nuclear and deliver its energy policy. The county council will continue working with UK and Welsh Governments, and regional partners, to bring new investment and employment to Anglesey.”