Wales

Brexit visas need for new nuclear plant on Anglesey

Wylfa Newydd Image copyright Horizon
Image caption Artist's impression of the latest design of Wylfa Newydd

A UK visa system for EU migrants after Brexit should be linked to large infrastructure projects, those behind a new Welsh nuclear plant have said.

Horizon Nuclear Power officials told MPs that "some kind of project-specific visa arrangements" would be required.

The company said a sizeable contingent of EU workers would be needed to build Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey.

Energy Minister Richard Harrington said an assessment of Brexit's impact on the nuclear sector would soon be published.

Horizon hopes to submit its main planning application, known as a development consent order, for the £10bn power station later this year.

In total, 8,350 construction workers will be required to build the plant near Cemaes.

Ben Russell, the head of policy and external affairs at Horizon, was giving evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee at Westminster.

Image copyright Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy
Image caption The full application to build the new plant will be made later this year

He said the company did not see the fundamentals of the project being affected by Brexit and argued that UK government policy favoured nuclear energy.

"We have a strong technology, a good site up on Anglesey, and a strong backer," he said, referring to Japanese firm Hitachi.

But skills were "certainly an issue" given the variety of roles required to build a new nuclear power plant.

"Whether they are steel-fixers, carpenters or civil construction skills, they are going to be the same sorts of workers that other nuclear new build programmes require as well as other large infrastructure projects," Mr Russell said.

"So I think for us there is a need to link the post-Brexit visa arrangements with nationally significant projects.

"If you're a designated NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) there might be a special arrangement within visa arrangements to make sure that those projects that are by their nature strategically important can be delivered.

"We will clearly be looking to take most of our workforce from Anglesey, north Wales, Wales, the UK. But precedent shows a sizable contingent for any large infrastructure project comes from the EU."

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