Hitachi scraps plans for £20bn nuclear power plant at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey

  • Video report by ITV Wales Work and Economy Correspondent Carole Green

Plans for a £20bn nuclear power plant on Anglesey in north Wales have been scrapped, the developers behind the project have confirmed.

Horizon Nuclear Power said it will be ceasing its activities to develop a project at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and at Oldbury on Severn in Gloucestershire following a decision by Hitachi, the Japanese company which owns Horizon, to pull out of the scheme. 

It was hoped that the proposed nuclear power plant would create thousands of jobs for the Anglesey area.

The leader of Anglesey Council, Cllr Llinos Medi, has described the news as a "devastating blow".

She said: “The Wylfa Newydd project had the potential to transform the Anglesey and North Wales economy, particularly that of North Anglesey."

Work on the Wylfa Newydd project was suspended in January 2019 after Hitachi failed to reach a funding agreement with the UK Government, but the planning process continued.

An artist's impression of the proposed site at Wylfa Newydd Credit: Horizon Nuclear / Artist's impression

The Chief Executive of Horizon Nuclear Power, Duncan Hawthorne, said that he understands the announcement will be "disappointing" for many.

“I understand this announcement will be disappointing for our many supporters who had hoped to see our project through to completion and I would personally like to thank you for your support throughout our time on this project.

 “In particular I would like to thank our lead host community of Anglesey in Wales, represented by the Isle of Anglesey County Council and Welsh Government, and the key representatives around Oldbury."

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This utterly predictable announcement from Hitachi is the outcome of successive government failures to act decisively around new nuclear, and in particular how it is financed.

"New nuclear is vital in achieving decarbonisation, especially when teamed up with hydrogen.

"It's no coincidence that around the world - almost without exception - it's governments who finance these projects, as they are the lender of last resort when it comes to keeping the lights on."

In a statement, the UK Government said it had offered a "significant package of support" to the project.

A spokesperson said: “Nuclear power will play a key role in the UK’s future energy mix as we transition to a low-carbon economy, including through our investments in small and advanced modular reactors. That’s why we previously offered a significant package of potential support to this project that went well beyond what any government has been willing to consider in the past. This included taking a one third equity stake, providing all of the required debt financing to complete construction, and providing generous financial support through our Contract for Difference scheme."

"We remain willing to discuss new nuclear projects with any viable companies and investors wishing to develop sites in the UK, including in North Wales.”

Minister for Economy and North Wales Ken Skates said: “The news from Hitachi today is deeply disappointing. 

“There has been a tremendous effort by Horizon Nuclear Power, Ynys Mon Council, the North Wales region and all our partners to bring this important project forward. Now is the time to continue with this strong partnership and build upon those efforts. 

“We must not lose sight that Wylfa remains one the best sites in the UK for new nuclear development.

“We will work with our partners to explore all other options, including internationally with key allies, to deliver a sustainable future for the site."