North West Wales

Brexit bill prompts Anglesey nuclear power plant concerns

Wylfa Newydd artist's impression Image copyright Horizon Nuclear Power

Plans to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey will face big challenges if the UK leaves a European nuclear cooperation institution due to Brexit, according to an expert.

Prof Dr Glyn O Phillips said leaving Euratom would make it difficult to get staff for projects like Wylfa Newydd.

The UK will leave the body if the bill to trigger Article 50 to start the process of leaving the EU is approved.

Wylfa Newydd's developers said it was confident any issues could be resolved.

But Prof Phillips, winner of international science awards, said that withdrawal from Euratom "will be destructive to any nuclear work in the UK" as European resources have been centralised at Cern in Geneva, Switzerland.

"They are trying to build a centre now in Manchester, to bring some kind of training but, in the end, all our researchers go back and forth to Cern," he said in an interview BBC Cymru Fyw.

"If that link is cut and we can't keep the connection, then I can't see how we could ever produce the workforce that is vital to maintain the new power stations that they are talking about."

He said training is "crucially important" to staff the next generation of plants, and that doing so is dependent on "working with other people".

"I don't see cutting ourselves off through Brexit bringing any new jobs. It just means that you cannot use other people's resources."

Prof Phillips added: "Wylfa Newydd will go on, of course, and we will have to depend on people from the outside to be trained, and make plans to do so.

"The investment will be bigger and, of course, the expense will be bigger as the pound has fallen in value. It does not bode well."

Wylfa Newydd developers Horizon Nuclear Power said that although withdrawal from Euratom could cause "problems", these would not impair the company's ability to source and train staff.

A spokesman said: "Whilst the UK's withdrawal from Euratom would present issues that would need to be addressed we are confident these can be resolved on a timescale that keeps us on schedule to successfully deliver our lead project, Wylfa Newydd.

"The government has indicated that it is determined to ensure there are no negative impacts from withdrawal and we welcome this commitment."

In response, the UK government said: "Leaving Euratom is a result of the decision to leave the EU as they are uniquely legally joined.

"The UK supports Euratom and will want to see continuity of co-operation and standards.

"We remain absolutely committed to the highest standards of nuclear safety, safeguards and support for the industry.

"Our aim is clear; we want to maintain our mutually successful civil nuclear co-operation with the EU."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We note the UK government has been assessing the implications of exiting Euratom.

"We will seek further detail on this matter along with assurance the withdrawal will have no negative effects on the nuclear sector in Wales and the UK."

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