The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Welsh Forum has joined with the groups PAWB (People Against Wylfa B), CADNO (the local group challenging proposed new nuclear developments at Trawsfynydd) and the Welsh Language Society to issue a letter to all Gwynedd County Councillors as they consider a review of its Joint Local Development Plan (JLDP). (1)
The 2017 JLDP between Gwynedd and Anglesey Councils focused on the development of large projects like Wylfa B as the centrepoint of local economic development. It was passed by just the casting vote of the Chair of Gwynedd County Council. Many councillors were concerned of its potential damage to Welsh language communities as new people came into the county to work on the new nuclear plant.
Backbench councillors at Gwynedd County Council have successfully enabled an extraordinary meeting of the council on the 28th June to discuss an urgent review of the plan. (2)
In their joint letter, NFLA, PAWB, CADNO and Cymdeithas yr Iaith note that, since then, the Wylfa B site has been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate. This was partially due to its conclusion over the negative impacts the site would have on sensitive environmental locations, as well as on the Welsh language and culture. The groups argue that there is now a real opportunity to review housing needs in reference to developing a new economic development strategy.
The letter notes:
“In total, the JLDP mentions the erection of 3,817 houses on Anglesey and 3,367 houses in Gwynedd. It is impossible to believe now that this number is needed for local requirements. The problem remains that if the land that has been previously allocated in areas for housing development is not reconsidered, then it may still be available as a prey to developers even though Wylfa B has been effectively scrapped. We believe that if Gwynedd County Council retains its plans for allowing the building of houses it will have a significant impact on those communities, linguistically, culturally and socially, not to mention the large use of greenfield land, giving the landscape a further blow. We also believe that there will be huge pressures on health, education, social services and the emergency services by such a large increase in the local population.”
The groups advocate that Gwynedd County Council should now move away from support for new nuclear and refocus towards renewable and decentralised energy projects more sympathetic to the local environment and focused rather on creating localised jobs for Gwynedd and Anglesey communities. The report notes PAWB’s ‘Manifesto for Mon’ (3) and NFLA’s reports (4) on how councils can effectively tackle the climate emergency as an alternative economic strategy for the future.
The letter also notes a recent NFLA commissioned report by Professor Stephen Thomas on small modular reactors. This notes significant financial and technical obstacles to the technology. It notes the Trawsfynydd site is probably too small for such reactors and that those developing a potential site at Wylfa face major challenges that could take some years to resolve. (5)
The joint letter concludes:
“We encourage you to move in a new direction at next Monday’s extraordinary meeting of the Council. Gwynedd County Council has missed out on new ideas and new thinking by focusing so much of its attention on new nuclear when it could have developed smaller, innovative, community owned energy alternatives. It would not need so many new homes for such developments and the area could retain its Welsh language speakers, who would be proud to live in Gwynedd and Anglesey.”
NFLA Welsh Forum Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
“We welcome councillors at Gwynedd calling this extraordinary meeting of the County Council to consider its Joint Local Development Plan. We are delighted to cooperate with PAWB, CADNO and Cymdeithas yr Iaith on sending this urgent call for change to Gwynedd councillors. It is time to move away from the illusions of success that new nuclear would bring but rather focus on creating local, high quality green jobs that will be sympathetic to the linguistic communities of Gwynedd and Anglesey. Councillors have a great opportunity to make real change and we urge them to do so.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 07771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(1) The bilingual letter sent to all Gwynedd County Councillors is attached with this media release and can be found on the NFLA website – https://www.nuclearpolicy.info
(3) PAWB, A Manifesto for Mon
(4) NFLA Policy Briefing 215: How should Local Authorities respond to the Climate Emergency in a Post-Pandemic Environment?
(5) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 65: Small & Advanced Modular Nuclear Reactors and the UK