The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) joins today with other groups and Members of Parliament who want to know the outcome of talks between the UK Government and Hitachi, which may have led potentially to financial guarantees to fund the expected £20 billion required to build the proposed new nuclear plant at Wylfa in Anglesey.
NFLA endorses an excellent Greenpeace briefing which outlines the real risks and problems that could occur if the UK Government moves away from previous policy to provide active financial support for building Wylfa B. (1)
The Greenpeace briefing notes:
- The UK Government, in a sharp departure from previous policy, is contemplating using taxpayer’s money to back a new nuclear plant.
- Hitachi, the developers of Wylfa B, is demanding taxpayer backing to proceed with the project, possibly in the form of an equity stake.
- Hitachi has indicated that these arrangements need to be made by mid-2018 or they will cease work at the site.
- Hitachi has a compromised record in developing nuclear power plants. There have been two serious safety breaches, one of which resulted in a $2.7 million fine in the United States.
- Hitachi could escape liability in the event of a serious accident or plant failure, leaving the UK taxpayer to pick up the bill.
At its most recent meeting, NFLA met with Welsh anti-nuclear groups and real concerns over the development of Wylfa B were discussed. (2) This comes at a time when the UK Government is prevaricating over the development of a tidal energy lagoon at Swansea Bay, despite support from the Welsh Government. The frustration over these delays has led the BEIS and Welsh Parliamentary Select Committee in Westminster to announce a joint inquiry into what is taking the UK Government so long to back tidal energy. (3)
It has become increasingly obvious to NFLA that the much lower costs of renewable energy, which continue to also come down year-on-year, make the new nuclear projects planned in England and Wales exorbitantly expensive and not required.
NFLA also note that Horizon, first under a RWE Npower / E-on partnership, and now under Hitachi, have talked for years that they could develop and finance a new nuclear reactor at Wylfa, but it is now abundantly clear that is not the case, and the project is wholly dependent on active and practical financial support from the UK and Japanese Governments.
NFLA agrees with the viewpoint of the Japan Times newspaper, which argues:
“Using taxpayer money to help finance a company’s project to build a new nuclear power plant overseas would force the public to shoulder the huge risks of a questionable policy undertaking to rescue the embattled nuclear power industry.” (4)
The burdens for the Japanese taxpayer are equally the same for the UK taxpayer. At a time when other energy infrastructure is being developed at much lower cost and both decentralised energy and energy efficiency are having a positive effect, NFLA call on the UK to publish the outcome of their talks with Hitachi and seek a Parliamentary discussion on the use of public money for a new nuclear power station.
NFLA Welsh Co-Chair, Councillor Sue Lent said:
“It is clear the new nuclear renaissance in England and Wales has stalled. The cost of Hinkley Point is bringing EDF unending problems, and these issues are clearly in the mind of Hitachi as it talks with the UK and Japanese Governments to directly fund and support Wylfa B. At the same time, the UK Government is silent on the funding of tidal lagoons for Wales, when considerable evidence shows these will cut their costs over time, unlike new nuclear. Energy choices have to be made and I urge the UK Government to not make the wrong one and guarantee many billions of taxpayer money to Hitachi. There are far better and cheaper alternatives than new nuclear and it is about time energy policy was reset in favour of renewable energy.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Greenpeace Briefing, Hitachi’s nuclear safety breaches and the case against public funding for the proposed Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, May 2018
(2) NFLA Media Release, 16th April 2018
(3) Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Inquiry of BEIS and Welsh Parliamentary Select Committees, May 2018
(4) As quoted in the Greenpeace Briefing noted above.