Wales

Wylfa Newydd: £12bn nuclear plant work 'called in'

Wylfa Newydd Image copyright Horizon Nuclear
Image caption Work on Wylfa Newydd would start in 2020 if it gets the final go ahead

Clearance work for a new £12bn nuclear power station has been halted over fears about the effect it will have on wildlife at a nature reserve.

The Welsh Government have called in plans to prepare a 740-acre area in Anglesey ready to build Wylfa Newydd.

Anglesey council had approved developer Horizon's 15-month clearance project but wildlife groups had "significant" concerns about the work's impact.

Horizon said it was "disappointed" and "disagreed with the reasoning".

Groups including the National Trust, RSPB Cymru and the North Wales Wildlife Trust had issues with the effect the work would have on a nearby area of outstanding natural beauty.

Cemlyn Nature Reserve is home to a number of at-risk species like water voles, otters and great-crested newts.

The Welsh Government are reviewing the plans as council planners only considered the works - including clearing field boundaries, demolishing buildings and "relocating species" - without taking into account the wider implications.

As a result of the "call-in", the fate of the plans will now be determined by Welsh ministers - a process which could take several months, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Horizon had wanted the work to start earlier as it would cut about a year off the nuclear plant's construction, which was expected to open in the mid-2020s.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The original Wylfa nuclear power station was decommissioned in 2015

The developers had pledged to create ecological areas and wetland habitats to offset the impact of their work.

"There are concerns the application... divorces the site preparation elements of the project from the later construction and operational phases of the project," said a letter from from the department for energy, planning and rural affairs to Anglesey council.

"However, if there are harmful environmental effects from the project overall, planning authorities need to be satisfied that any reasonable alternative sites which would result in less harm, no harm or gain, have been fully considered."

Anglesey council had "passed unanimously" Horizon's plan to start clearance work.

"The hope is that the call-in will not have an adverse effect on the Wylfa Newydd development as this is key as a vital catalyst to develop the economy of the island and north Wales," said the council's economic development portfolio leader Carwyn Jones,

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