Wylfa nuclear plan given extension as talks continue

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe Wylfa Newydd power plant would be built next to the former nuclear site on Anglesey

Planning approval for a new Welsh nuclear power plant has been put on hold again, as talks continue to save the project.

Hitachi abandoned its bid to build a new £20bn plant at Wylfa on Anglesey in the autumn.

Developers Horizon Nuclear have been holding discussions with "interested parties" to revive the proposals.

The UK government has now extended the process, known as development consent, until 30 April 2021.

A decision had been due to be made by New Year's Eve, following a request in the autumn to give Horizon more time to hold discussions with potential backers.

Horizon's chief executive wrote to the UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma again on 18 December, asking for a further extension.

image copyrightHorizon Nuclear
image captionWork to prepare the site for the new nuclear plant was suspended in 2019

Duncan Hawthorne told the cabinet minister: "These discussions with multiple parties have been positive and encouraging with regards to finding a way forward in Hitachi Ltd's absence.

"Given the complexities involved in any large infrastructure project, these talks are still ongoing.

"A further short deferral would allow us to conclude discussions to deliver a clear outcome for the Wylfa Newydd project, and to settle on our position regarding development consent."

The planned power station to replace the original Wylfa nuclear plant would have led to about 9,000 jobs during construction.

Work on the ground in Anglesey was suspended in January 2019, as costs for the project continued to rise and Hitachi was unable to reach a funding agreement with the UK government.

The Japanese firm then officially withdrew from the project in September.

Responding to the latest request, the UK government said it was "appropriate to reset" the planning consent deadline until the end of April.

image copyrightVirginia Crosbie
image captionAnglesey's Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie said the decision keeps plans "on the table"

The island's MP said she was "delighted" with the announcement.

Virginia Crosbie said: "This decision keeps the opportunity at Wylfa firmly on the table whilst talks continue.

"I understand that the current discussions are progressing well and I hope that we will see positive movement in the next couple of months."

Anglesey council leader Llinos Medi added: "Wylfa is one of the best sites for new nuclear development in Europe and its future development has the potential to bring huge economic rewards and job opportunities for our young people over the next 60 years.

Horizon Nuclear said it also welcomed the decision, saying it was the "most sensible course of action".

"Given these positive talks are still ongoing, another short deferral is in the best interests of the project and all those that would benefit from its successful delivery," added a Horizon official.

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