Wylfa B dead in the water?

IssueFebruary - March 2019
News by Lotte Reimer

PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) have welcomed the news that the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi have suspended their project to build a nuclear power station at Wylfa, on the north coast of Anglesey.

PAWB say in a press release: ‘it will be a relief for all of us who worry about the future of our island, our country, our language, our environment and indeed renewable energy.’

Citing huge resources of renewable energy in Wales such as wind, tidal and solar, and great potential for developing new industries and jobs in this sector, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Cymru call for an urgent alternative economic plan for Anglesey to replace jobs at risk and to create new ones.

PAWB was founded in 1988 to oppose a second nuclear power plant at Wylfa. Then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s plan was dropped on economic grounds after a couple of years.

Since then, there have been several attempts to revive the project. In 2009, Horizon Nuclear, a consortium led by two German companies, E.ON and RWE npower, made a bid. They pulled out in 2012 because of costs and the 2011 Fukushima disaster, selling Horizon to Hitachi for £696 million.

In 2016, Hitachi linked up with German engineering firm Bechtel & a Japanese energy specialist JGC. Bechtel later reduced their commitment to just an advisory role.

Since 2014, PAWB have formed close relationships with the Japanese press and the anti-nuclear movement in Japan, especially FoE, and there have been several exchange visits.

In 2018, with costs rising to around £20 billion, Hitachi sought further financial guarantees from the UK government. However, as no agreement could be reached, Hitachi have suspended Wylfa B as well as a second plant in Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

According to PAWB’s Phil Steele, most commentators in Japan and the UK believe Wylfa is ‘dead in the water’, but he adds a warning: ‘It’s not over yet: the pro-nuke lobby has satanic powers and a magic money tree.’

Topics: Nuclear Power