Adran yr Economi a Thrafnidiaeth
Department for Economy and Transport
Ein cyf/Our ref 4th February 2019
Peter Cornish – Chairman – Wales Nuclear Forum – Peter.Cornish@acornpeople.com
You will by now have had time to consider Hitachi’s decision on 17 January 2019 to suspend the Wylfa Newydd project on Anglesey. The decision was based on the Hitachi Board’s assessment that insufficient progress has been made to source additional/third party project investment and that this situation is unlikely to improve in the short to medium term.
It is within this context that I write to assure you and the wider Forum membership of the continued support of the Welsh Government for the nuclear sector throughout Wales. As a government we recognise the nuclear sector’s huge potential for delivering against our central aim of tackling regional inequalities, exploiting regional strengths and delivering prosperity for all. I am also keen to reassure the Forum that Hitachi’s announcement is a suspension of Horizon’s work at Wylfa and not the end of new build ambitions at the site.
In his written statement to the Senedd, the Minister for Economy and Transport emphasised that we will continue to press the UK Government to do everything possible to enable the project to restart. We are seeking early clarification on the Regulated Asset Base funding model, now under scrutiny as a potential delivery mechanism for new nuclear projects in future, as well as assurances that they will support us in addressing the challenges we face in maintaining momentum in key areas such as skills and supply chain development.
However, Wylfa Newydd is not the only nuclear opportunity for Welsh companies. The ongoing construction at Hinkley Point C in Somerset has already seen Welsh companies winning work, with around 1,000 Welsh workers currently working on site. Defueling and decommissioning work continues at both Wylfa A and Trawsfynydd and at other sites throughout the UK and Sellafield alone has a decommissioning budget of £2 billion per year. There are many opportunities for innovative companies to provide solutions to their myriad challenges.
We are also committed to supporting research and skills, a vital fuel for businesses in the region, with the expansion of cutting-edge nuclear research programmes at Bangor University, including the £40m world-class National Thermal Hydraulic Facility at the M-SParc site on Anglesey.
We are looking further ahead too, with the significant opportunities offered by the emerging SMR and AMR agendas. We are doing all that we can to ensure that North Wales is well positioned to participate in advanced technology development , in the hope that Trawsfynydd becomes a key site for R&D and first-of-a-kind deployment.
While last week’s announcement was undoubtedly a setback for us all, Welsh Government will continue to support Welsh businesses within the sector and with the efforts and support of the Forum, we can together realise our mutual ambitions for sector growth in Wales and increasing benefits for Welsh businesses.
I am happy to update the next full WNF meeting and to respond to any concerns from the wider membership.
Head of Nuclear Supply Chains