Government announce Anglesey as preferred site of new nuclear power station

Government announce Anglesey as preferred site of new nuclear power station

Wylfa in North Wales is the preferred site for a major new nuclear power development, the government has announced.

Ministers are beginning talks with international energy firms to explore building the UK’s third mega-nuclear power station at the Anglesey site, according to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

The department said the gigawatt nuclear power plant could provide enough clean power for six million homes for 60 years.

Britain has a target of generating a quarter of all electricity – around 24GW – from home-grown nuclear power by 2050.

The aim is part of the government’s plan to enhance energy security and deliver on net zero.

Currently, the UK generates about 15% of its electricity needs from nuclear capacity.

The Wylfa project could be similar in scale to Hinkley in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk, with hopes it would bring thousands of jobs and investment to the area.

More on Anglesey

Labour has accused the government of “dither and delay” on new nuclear at Wylfa, after Japanese giant Hitachi pulled out of a previous project there in 2019 because of rising costs.

Wylfa’s twin reactor Magnox nuclear power station, which went online in 1971, stopped generating power at the end of 2015 and has been decommissioned.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “Anglesey has a proud nuclear history and it is only right that, once again, it can play a central role in boosting the UK’s energy security.

“Wylfa would not only bring clean, reliable power to millions of homes – it could create thousands of well-paid jobs and bring investment to the whole of North Wales.”

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‘High-tech’ nuclear power for UK

The UK is working to expand nuclear power through traditional large-scale plants as well as small modular reactors (SMRs), which supporters hope will be quicker and cheaper to construct.

Great British Nuclear aims to announce winning bidders in the tendering process to build SMRs by the end of this year.

But this is later than the spring timetable the government set last October for announcing the successful companies.

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Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said the government is “absolutely right” to pursue more large-scale nuclear alongside the SMR programme.

He said: “Wylfa is the best site in Europe for a big nuclear project: It has an existing grid connection, the hard bedrock ideal for a nuclear power station, superior cooling water access, and some work to clear the site for large-scale construction was already done by the previous developer.”

Labour’s shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead said: “We welcome the government finally moving forward with a nuclear project identified by the last Labour government.

“But this should be the bare minimum – and celebrating a tentative step forward in 2024 on a project that should have been moving in 2010 tells you everything about this tired, snail’s-pace government.”