Hitachi abandons UK nuclear power station projects

Horizon Nuclear Power will stop developing two UK projects following a decision by Hitachi to pull out of the scheme.

The decision to abandon building new power stations at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and at Oldbury on Severn, in South Gloucestershire, deals a huge blow to the nuclear industry and hopes of creating thousands of new jobs.

Hitachi announced it will end business operations on the nuclear power plant construction project at Wylfa, which was suspended in January 2019.

The Japanese company said: Hitachi made this decision given that 20 months have passed since the suspension, and the investment environment has become increasingly severe due to the impact of Covid-19.”

Horizon chief executive Duncan Hawthorne said: I understand this announcement will be disappointing for our many supporters who had hoped to see our project through to completion. Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and Oldbury on Severn are highly desirable sites for new nuclear build. We will do our utmost to facilitate the prospects for development.”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: Wylfa is probably the best site in the UK for new nuclear capacity, and has strong community and stakeholder support.

It is imperative that a way forward is found for the site, to deliver thousands of jobs, hundreds of apprenticeships and millions of pounds of investment into an economic boost for the area while delivering secure, reliable and low-carbon power to underpin the UK’s transition to net zero.”

Alan Whitehead, shadow minister for energy and a green new deal, said: Ministers must urgently outline whether they plan to seek new developers to take on the Wylfa project, what conversations they have had with Hitachi about the site, and how they will ensure the people of Wales do not pay the price for Hitachi’s withdrawal.”

Horizon was actively developing Wylfa Newydd until January 2019 and planned to have capacity to power around 10 million homes, with Oldbury following on from the North Wales project.

A Government spokesman said: We remain willing to discuss new nuclear projects with any viable companies and investors wishing to develop sites in the UK, including in North Wales.”

Unite called on the Government to unveil its energy White Paper urgently to allay fears about the future of the UK’s nuclear industry.

The Welsh Government’s minister for economy and North Wales Ken Skates said: We must not lose sight that Wylfa remains one the best sites in the UK for new nuclear development. We will work with our partners to explore all other options, including internationally with key allies, to deliver a sustainable future for the site.”

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