Decision on Welsh nuclear project delayed again

January 6, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

Artist's concept of the Wylfa Newydd project. Image: Horizon Nuclear Power

The U.K. government has agreed to delay until April 30 its decision regarding the issuance of a development consent order (DCO) for, the nuclear new-build project proposed for the island of Anglesey, off the northwest coast of Wales. (DCOs are required for large infrastructure projects in the United Kingdom to move forward.)

The extension was granted by Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma on December 31, in response to a December 18 letter from Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive officer of Horizon Nuclear Power—the Hitachi Ltd. subsidiary still involved with Wylfa Newydd despite the parent company’s decision last year to withdraw from the project.

Hawthorne had initially asked the government to delay its decision on the DCO in a September 2020 letter, citing “discussions with third parties that have expressed an interest in progressing with the development” of Wylfa Newydd. In response to that request, the United Kingdom’s Planning Inspectorate agreed to put off its decision until December 31.

About those discussions: In his December 18 letter, Hawthorne asked that the decision be deferred until March 30 or such other period as the Secretary of State believes is appropriate. “Discussions with multiple parties have been positive and encouraging with regards to finding a way forward [with the Wylfa Newydd project] in Hitachi Ltd.’s absence,” he said. “Given the complexities involved in any large infrastructure project, these talks are still ongoing, and my team and I are continuing to work hard to bring them to a conclusion. . . . A further short deferral would allow us to conclude discussions to deliver a clear outcome . . . and to settle on our position regarding development consent.”

Reaction: “This decision keeps the opportunity at Wylfa firmly on the table whilst talks continue,” said Virginia Crosbie, member of parliament for Anglesey. “I understand that the current discussions are progressing well, and I hope that we will see positive movement in the next couple of months.”

Llinos Medi, Anglesey council leader, said, “Wylfa is one of the best sites for new nuclear development in Europe, and its future development has the potential to bring huge economic rewards and job opportunities for our young people over the next 60 years.”

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