Hitachi freezes construction of £13bn Anglesey nuclear power station

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Work is being suspended on a £13bn nuclear power station on Anglesey because of rising costs, the company behind the project has announced

Hitachi said talks with the UK government to reach an arrangement to finance the project, which is being built at Wylfa Newydd in north Wales by its subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power, have failed to reach an agreement.

Operations will therefore be suspended on Anglesey nuclear power station and at a second site at Oldbury on Severn in Gloucestershire “until a solution can be found”.

“Hitachi has decided to suspend the project at this time from the viewpoint of its economic rationality as a private enterprise, as it is now clear that further time is needed to develop a financial structure for the Horizon Project and the conditions for building and operating the nuclear power stations,” the firm said in a statement.

Around 9,000 workers were expected to be involved in the construction of the two reactors.

Hitachi said the decision to suspend operations will cost it around 330bn yen (£21.4bn).

Wylfa Newydd and Oldbury were two of six sites identified for new nuclear power stations. Of those, only one – Hinkley Point C – is still under construction. In November, it was announced that plans for another site, at Moorside in Cumbria, were being abandoned.

In a statement to the Commons, energy secretary Greg Clark said the government had offered Hitachi a “significant and generous package of potential support” for the project, including taking a one-third stake in the project and providing all debt financing to complete construction.

“The government continues to believe that nuclear has an important role to play, but critically it must represent good value for the taxpayer and the consumer. I believe the package of support that we were prepared to consider was the limit of what could be justified in this instance,” he added.

“I was not prepared to ask the taxpayer to take on a larger share of the equity, as that would have meant taxpayers taking on the majority of construction risk and the government becoming the largest shareholder with responsibility for the delivery of a nuclear project.”

The Nuclear Industry Association said the urgent need for more capacity “should not be underestimated” as all but one of the eight nuclear power stations currently generating power are due to come offline by 2030.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the NIA, said: “Today’s news is disappointing, not just for the Wylfa Newydd project but for Anglesey and the nuclear industry as a whole. Wylfa remains a strong site for vital new nuclear power for the UK.

“If we want a balanced generation mix, government must work with industry to deliver that vital capacity on this site. At stake are our ability to provide bulk, low carbon power, energy security, and the potential loss of the chance of thousands of highly skilled, well paid jobs in Wales and North West England.”

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