United Kingdom

Hitachi ditches plan for £15,000,000,000 UK nuclear power plant

Work on the Wylfa nuclear power station had already been suspended (Picture: Getty Images)

Plans for a multi-billion nuclear power plant in North Wales have been scrapped, leaving ‘serious ramifications’ for firms across the UK.

Horizon Nuclear Power has confirmed it will be ceasing its projects at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and in Oldbury on Severn, Gloucestershire, after Hitachi decided to pull out of the scheme.

The Japanese multinational suspended development at the Welsh site in January 2019 after failing to reach a funding agreement with the UK Government, but the planning process continued.

This morning’s announcement has dealt a huge blow to Britain’s nuclear industry, which hoped to the project would create thousands of new jobs.

In a statement, Hitachi said it had made the decision ‘given that 20 months have passed since the suspension, and the investment environment has become increasingly severe due to the impact of Covid-19’.

Horizon said it will now take steps to close down its current developments. The Gloucester based company which is owned by Hitachi said it would ‘keep the lines of communication open with Government and other key stakeholders regarding future options at both our sites’.

An artist’s impression of the planned nuclear power station at Wylfa (Picture: PA)

Chief executive Duncan Hawthorne said: ‘I understand this announcement will be disappointing for our many supporters who had hoped to see our project through to completion and I would personally like to thank you for your support throughout our time on this project.

‘In particular I would like to thank our lead host community of Anglesey in Wales, represented by the Isle of Anglesey County Council and Welsh Government, and the key representatives around Oldbury.

‘I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the many international, UK and Welsh stakeholders who have supported us in the development of our projects.

‘Nuclear power has a critical role to play in helping tackle our energy needs, meeting our climate change targets and levelling up the economy through green growth and job creation.

‘Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and Oldbury on Severn are highly desirable sites for new nuclear build. We will do our utmost to facilitate the prospects for development which will bring the major local, national and environmental benefits that nuclear can uniquely deliver as we push to transition to a net zero carbon economy by 2050.’

It was hoped the project by Horizon would create thousands of new jobs (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

The move had been expected yesterday, with GMB union national officer Justin Bowden saying: ‘This utterly predictable announcement from Hitachi is the outcome of successive government failures to act decisively around new nuclear, and in particular how it is financed.

‘New nuclear is vital in achieving decarbonisation, especially when teamed up with hydrogen.

‘It’s no coincidence that around the world – almost without exception – it’s governments who finance these projects, as they are the lender of last resort when it comes to keeping the lights on.

‘The fanciful experiment of trying to get foreign companies or governments to fund our future energy needs leaves most ordinary citizens in this country bewildered.’

A group of 100 organisations, including unions and businesses, backing plans to build a nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk, voiced concern about the Wylfa decision.

Sizewell C Consortium spokesman Cameron Gilmour,aid: ‘This news will have serious ramifications for companies both in Wales and across the UK.

‘The Wylfa nuclear project would have been another important milestone for the UK’s nuclear supply chain and would have created thousands of jobs.

‘Unless Sizewell C, a replica of the under-construction Hinkley Point C, is given the go-ahead, there is now a serious risk to the future of the UK’s civil nuclear construction capability and the tens of thousands of jobs that go with it.’

Chief scientist for Greenpeace UK Dr Doug Parr said: ‘Nuclear power’s ever-rising costs overtook the ever-falling costs of renewables years ago, and a new reactor now supplies electricity at more than double the price of a new offshore wind farm.

‘Propping up this dying industry has become more and more difficult and expensive for the handful of governments still hoping for a nuclear renaissance.

‘We’re hoping the UK Government will take Hitachi’s decision to abandon Wylfa as final confirmation of what the energy market has long been trying to tell them – Britain’s future is renewable.’

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