Hopes UK Government announcement will deliver ‘large-scale’ nuclear power plant for Anglesey
The UK Government’s announcement that it is set to consult on classifying nuclear power as “environmentally sustainable” has sparked hopes of a large-scale nuclear facility being built on Anglesey.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt yesterday described nuclear power as a “critical source of cheap and reliable energy” in his Spring Budget.
The announcement was made alongside news of the first state backing of a nuclear project in almost 40 years at Sizewell C and the launch of a new body called Great British Nuclear to oversee how new nuclear projects are delivered in the UK.
The Wylfa site on Anglesey has been linked as a possibility for a new nuclear facility, with the possibility of small modular reactors previously being touted, amid claims it will deliver jobs and investment for the island.
Anti-nuclear groups have opposed any potential scheme, describing nuclear power as “slow, dangerous and extortionately expensive”, calling for the government’s focus to be put on green renewable energy instead.
However, Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie has welcomed the latest announcement from the Chancellor.
The Conservative MP has been campaigning for a new nuclear site on Anglesey since she was elected in December 2019, earning her the nickname of “Atomic Kitten” from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
She said: “Yesterday we saw the UK government really fire the starting gun for new nuclear power across the UK and here on Anglesey. This is a good day for nuclear ambition in our country.
“In investment terms, nuclear power being put forward for the green taxonomy – subject to a consultation – is a game changer when it comes to finding finance for projects.
“It means “green” investment vehicles will be able to invest in nuclear, allowing the sector to access more investment – a vital element if we are to see spades in the ground at Wylfa. This is something I have worked on achieving with the government for years and I am delighted.
“Hand in hand will go Great British Nuclear (GBN) launched by the Chancellor today with the aim that new nuclear power will provide a quarter of our electricity by 2050.
“This is again something I have pushed for in a letter to the Prime Minister to ensure a bold new programme of nuclear power construction under the aegis of GBN.
“On Ynys Môn, where we have the best site for nuclear power in the UK, this pushes forward the day when the greenlight for Wylfa is given.
“I am confident it will be a large-scale nuclear power station but the competition for Small Modular Reactors (SMR) and the government’s announcement it will co-fund the technology if it is viable could also mean they are placed on Anglesey.
“We now have several options to bring jobs and investment through nuclear energy to our island. It could be one or both but what today means is we are moving ever closer.
“Rest assured, I will not stop until I am at Wylfa, hard hat on, spade in hand.”
In his statement yesterday, the Chancellor directly referred to Ms Crosbie when announcing the nuclear plans.
Mr Hunt said: “We have increased the proportion of electricity generated from renewables from under 10% to nearly 40%.
“But because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, we will need another critical source of cheap and reliable energy. And that is nuclear.
“There have been no more powerful advocates for this than the hon members for Ynys Mon, Copeland, Hartlepool and Workington.
“They rightly say that increasing nuclear capacity is vital to meet our Net Zero obligations.
“So to encourage the private sector investment into our nuclear programme, I today confirm that subject to consultation nuclear power will be classed as “environmentally sustainable” in our green taxonomy, giving it access to the same investment incentives as renewable energy. Alongside that will come more public investment.
“In the Autumn Statement, I announced the first state-financed investment in nuclear for a generation, a £700 million investment in Sizewell C.
“Today I can announce two further commitments to deliver our nuclear ambitions.
“Firstly, following representations from our energetic Energy Security Secretary I am announcing the launch of Great British Nuclear which will bring down costs and provide opportunities across the nuclear supply chain to help provide up to one quarter of our electricity by 2050.
And secondly, I am launching the first competition for Small Modular Reactors. It will be completed by the end of this year and if demonstrated as viable we will co-fund this exciting new technology.”
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