“Plans for major nuclear power station in Wales win green light”
Plans for a major new nuclear power station in Wales have taken a crucial step forward as UK regulators approved the project.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation and two other government bodies gave the green light on Thursday for the Japanese reactor design for Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, marking the end of a five-year regulatory process.
Duncan Hawthorne, Horizon’s chief executive, said: “This is a huge milestone for Horizon and a major leap forward for us in bringing much-needed new nuclear power to the UK.”
Attention will now turn to financing the Hitachi-backed project on the island of Anglesey, which was the site of Britain’s oldest nuclear plant until it closed two years ago.
During a visit by UK ministers to Japan last December, it emerged that London and Tokyo were considering public financing for Wylfa. This would be a significant break with the UK government’s previous approach.
Hitachi has already spent £2bn on development. Last week the consortium said it needed a financial support package by mid-2018 or it could stop funding development.
Japan’s Toshiba has bowed out of the race to build nuclear plants in the UK, confirming last week that a South Korean nuclear firm had been chosen to buy its venture to build a plant in Cumbria.
If Horizon is successful with Wylfa, it hopes to build a second new nuclear power station at Oldbury in Gloucestershire. The plants will use Hitachi’s advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR), which has been approved for use at Wylfa.
The Welsh plant would have a capacity of 2.7GW, similar to the 3.2GW of the nuclear power station that EDF is building at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Mark Foy, chief nuclear inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said: “The completion of the generic design assessment of the UK ABWR is a significant step in our regulation of the overall process to construct this type of reactor in the UK, ensuring that the generic design meets the highest standards of safety that we expect in this country.”
Ministers said last week that nuclear can and would compete with rival technologies, such as offshore wind, the price of which has reached a record low.
Richard Harrington, energy minister, said it was “very naive” and “very simplistic” to suggest that because the guaranteed price for wind was lower there would be no more nuclear projects.