Island Opinion Firmly For Wylfa B
The S4C programme "Pawb a'i Farn" last night showed the very strong support for Wylfa B on Anglesey. A very informed audience at Holyhead Healthy Living Centre heard views from politicians and a leading nuclear expert about the challenges ahead.
With the UK government giving the green light to new nuclear build following Energy Secretary Ed Miliband's recent announcement that 10 sites including Wylfa are suitable for new reactors, interest will inevitably turn to local opinion of stakeholders.
It was noticeable that amongst the audience of around 100 people how all the young people were strongly in favour. Indeed one of the panellists and a local councillor commented on a poll taken among the students at Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge where 98% were in favour of new nuclear on Anglesey.
There were some in the audience such as members of the anti-nuclear group PAWB who unsurprisingly still made their arguments against a new Wylfa reactor. They cited the delays in completing the Areva Siemens EPR reactor in Olkiluoto in Finland, apparently 3 years overdue, and an alleged incident in France involving a wine growing company near a nuclear facility.
Clearly there is a need to ensure that nuclear waste is dealt with safely and that only a facility with the most exacting specifications in terms of engineering design and geological suitability can be considered as a deep repository.
The issue of waste would of course be a challenge even if we had no new build because of the legacy waste from the rectors already decommissioned as well as those soon due to be closed such as Wylfa.
Given the very difficult economic circumstances we face after the global recession and particularly in Anglesey following the closure of the Anglesey Aluminium smelter with big job losses, the emphasis locally has to be on creating new employment opportunities.
This can start with the right training and education infrastructure and many of the young people in the audience are aware of the opportunities that a new Wylfa B would bring to the island.
At Manchester University the Dalton Nuclear Institute is leading a strong response to the UK's nuclear skills shortage by co-ordinating collaboration between a number of UK university research departments.
Within this context, young people on Anglesey now have the chance to qualify for the opportunities that will arise over the coming decades, bearing in mind that the new reactors are designed to run for up to sixty years.
In terms of the benefits to the local economy, Anglesey Council have suggested that a new nuclear plant at Wylfa would translate into around a £2 billion injection into the island over the coming decades. This will have a huge positive impact on the supply chain as well as local accommodation businesses.
The coming months will see RWE Npower, as part of the new consortium Horizon Nuclear Power, continuing to consult with local people across the island community as part of the process towards a formal application.
Gas bills too big? Which? Switch? the independent energy service you can trust
For more local news and stories, subscribe to our free Anglesey Today Newsletter here. It's as easy as 1-2-3!