Next UK Nuclear Plant on Anglesey
by Steve Jones
Horizon Nuclear Power's decision to apply for planning permission in 2012 to build a 3.3GW capacity reactor at Wylfa on Anglesey means the island could host the next new nuclear plant in the UK.
A joint venture between German energy giants RWE and E.ON, Horizon has two sites on which it hopes to build new reactors as part of the new programme of nuclear build supported by the UK Government.
Wylfa on Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire, and it now appears that the island location will be the first to go forward for planning consent.
The exisiting power station at Wylfa will cease electricity generation at the end of 2010, after which defuelling and decommissioning will begin.
Horizon Nuclear Power purchased land at Wylfa Head next to the current reactor from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in May 2008.
The UK Government's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is currently in the process of assessing Horizon's proposals and this is expected to last around four months.
Given the difficult economic challenges faced by the island in recent months, this is excellent news and estimates by the local authority suggest around £8 billion would be pumped into the island and surrounding economies as a result of this huge scheme.
There are likely to be around 5,000 jobs created during the construction phase, leading up to the estimated completion date in 2020.
Horizon Nuclear Power estiamte that 800 high quality jobs will be created which could rise to about 1,000 during maintenance periods.
Local MP Albert Owen, who has been a strong campaigner for Wylfa over a number of years, and has made numerous representations at senior government level for the Wylfa B project, said: "this is excellent news for Anglesey with the prospect of high quality jobs and big opportunities for the regional supply chain.
It's also great news for the many young people on the island, including those starting out their school education, as they can look forward to quality job opportunities here in their local community."
Horizon's Project Manager Alan Smith said the new plant would make a "vital contribution" in addressing both climate change and the UK's energy security needs.
There is, however, a small group which opposes any new nuclear build in Britain. PAWB (People Against Wylfa B) is led by Dylan Morgan who expresses concerns about the likely higher levels of radioactivity in the new waste that would be generated.
Interim storage facilities are likely to be used on site and Mr Morgan questions whether it would be right to leave the waste here for a lengthy period of time.
Overall, it is probably fair to say that this is a tremendous opportunity for the island for up to three generations going forward, and as Local Council Leader Clive McGregor said it is "like a small village winning the bid to host the Olympic Games."
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