Are Hitachi about to pull the plug on Wylfa B?

Investors running scared because of mounting costs

A JAPANESE TV station has reported this week that Hitachi, the company behind the proposed Wylfa B  nuclear development on Ynys Mon, look set to pull the plug on the whole project because of the mounting construction costs involved.

With investors apparently giving the £15B enterprise a cold shoulder because of the increasing costs, TV station Ashanti said that the Hitachi board have now called an emergency meeting to discuss the growing crisis.

Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi was quoted as saying the company faced “an extremely severe situation” in seeking to find investors willing to cough up the £7 billion yen they needed to finance the project, adding they would have to come to a final decision sometime in the new year.

Should private investment not be forthcoming, it seems highly unlikely that Westminster- who control major energy projects in Wales- would be minded to plug the gap, especially in a post-Brexit environment where a major review of  all public funding is inevitable.

 A huge potential embarrassment for Plaid locally

If the reports from Japan are correct, and the project is about to be scrapped this would prove to be a severe embarrassment for local politicians who have backed the nuclear development so slavishly. In the first place, it would be a huge blow for the Plaid Cymru led Ynys Mon Council, who have placed all their economic eggs in the fragile Wylfa B basket for the past few years.

It would also be a slap in the teeth for local Plaid AM Rhun ap Iorwerth, who has been an enthusiastic backer of the Wylfa B nuclear project imposed by Westminster. This despite the fact that Plaid Cymru has an official anti-nuclear policy in place.

Any such decision would also have wider local political ramifications, since  Plaid-led Gwynedd County Council’s decision last year to approve the building of 8,000 new homes on Mon and Gwynedd was largely predicated on the belief that some 4,000 construction workers would be shipped in from outside the area to build the new nuclear plant.

“Who wants Mon Mam Cymru turned into a nuclear waste dustbin?”

Dylan Morgan of PAWB (Pobol Against Wylfa B) said they had been arguing for years that nuclear energy was dirty, dangerous, old fashioned, a threat to human and environmental health and ridiculously expensive.

“Who on earth wants to see the north of “Mon Mam Cymru” destroyed environmentally, socially and linguistically by such a monstrous development, with a nuclear waste dustbin in place on the Wylfa site for at least a 100 years if this was to go ahead?” he said.

He added that PAWB had now written to Hitachi’s directors this week to ask them to formally confirm that they are withdrawing from the project.

“With the latest news about Toshiba’s failure to progress with the Moorside plan in Cumbria and now these reports from Japan- the writing is truly on the wall for this failed industry” said Mr Morgan.

No need for nuclear in Wales’s energy mix

Gwlad Gwlad comments:  We are clear that this Wylfa B project was bad news for Wales from the very start. The whole rationale is to produce electricity for England, with only an estimated 200 final jobs created on site – thus offering precious little value for money for Welsh tax-payers. The sheer scale of the project would draw in thousands of workers from outside the area, posing a huge cultural threat to some of the last Welsh-speaking strongholds in Wales. And worse of all, the clear-up costs of the nuclear waste on site would fall upon a generation or two of as yet unborn Welsh people.  It’s shameful and shocking that Plaid Cymru locally have supported such a dangerous and destructive white elephant, breaking one of their own key party policies in doing so.

Investment to create a lucrative energy export market

Wales doesn’t need nuclear power. Wales is already producing more than enough electricity for our domestic needs as it is. Developing safer forms of energy through tidal, wave and solar energy, tapping into new forms of energy such as hydrogen, and keeping an open mind about the potential of clean coal (carbon re-capture technology) is the way to go to meet our domestic and economic requirements in future. Such investment in a hybrid energy approach could also create a lucrative energy export market to meet the needs of our big neighbour next door.

It’s ironic in a way that despite the overwhelming social, cultural and environmental reasons to oppose the Wylfa B development – it looks as if it might well finally flounder because of the economics involved. Money talks after all.

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