UK Government Energy Strategy backs plans for new nuclear plant on Anglesey

The news has been welcomed by the nuclear industry. Credit: PA Images/ITV Wales

The UK Government says it aims to speed up plans for a new nuclear power station on Anglesey “as soon as possible this decade” as part of its newly-announced Energy Strategy.

Ministers say the plan to increase Britain’s nuclear capacity could mean up to eight new reactors are built, including the project at Wylfa.

A government agency to be called “Great British Nuclear” is being set up to develop the projects with “substantial funding.”

The strategy also includes the aim of increasing the number of offshore wind farms and licensing new North Sea oil and gas projects.

But it has been criticised by environmental campaigners for failing to deal with short-term energy problems without making the changes needed to end dependence on nuclear and fossil fuels.

Boris Johnson said that the strategy sets out “bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain – from new nuclear to offshore wind – in the decade ahead.

Energy generation ended at the previous Wylfa power station on Anglesey in 2015. Subsequent plans to build a new plant known as Wylfa Newydd or Wylfa B, collapsed in 2020 when the Japanese company behind it pulled out.

Environmental campaigners have been critical of the move.

Two American companies, Westinghouse and Bechtel, have been in talks with the UK Government to revive the project.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart is meeting the firms on Thursday as he visits the Vogtle nuclear power plant which they’re building in Georgia.

The news has been welcomed by the nuclear industry.

According to Tom Greatrex, the Chief Executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association: “The new nuclear target of 24GW by 2050 is a vital step forward for UK energy security and our net zero future. Investing in fleets of large and small scale stations is essential to securing clean, affordable, British power which will work alongside renewables to cut our dependence on gas.

“This investment will also create tens of thousands of jobs across the country and revitalise a world class skills base right here in Britain. The ambition and determination to do much more and quicker is very welcome.”

However environmental campaigners have been critical. 

Neil Crumpton from the group People Against Wylfa B (PAWB) has criticised the new emphasis on nuclear.

“The Prime Minister should not be making 'gung-ho' comments about 'taking bets on nuclear power’. 

“It is a complex and radio-toxic technology. The UK should be showing the world how wind and solar energy, when backed-up by hydrogen-fired power stations, would provide reliable electricity to consumers no matter what the weather or season.”

Greenpeace has criticised the strategy for prioritising nuclear power which it calls “an eye-wateringly expensive and unreliable form of energy.”

The group’s Head of Policy Rebecca Newsom said, “the government could have chosen to power ahead with quick, cost-effective and fair solutions like taxing oil and gas companies’ mega-profits, investing more to cut energy waste from homes, and unblocking planning barriers for cheap and popular onshore wind.

“Instead, while there are some improvements on renewables targets, they have prioritised slow solutions, dishing out rewards to vested interests in the nuclear and the oil and gas industries, which won't tackle the cost of living crisis or reduce our dependence on gas.

How people on Anglesey have reacted