All work on UK nuclear power schemes – the £20 billion Horizon station at Wylfa Newydd in Wales and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire – has been suspended by the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi due to a UK government failure to secure more financing. As a result of this decision, 400 jobs will be lost and the Wylfa project will not create the estimated 9,000 jobs that it was going to.
“We have made very strong progress on all aspects of the project’s development, including the UK design of our tried and tested reactor, supply chain development and especially the building of a very capable organisation of talented and committed people,” said Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power, a subsidiary of Hitachi, about the decision.
“We have been in close discussions with the UK government, in cooperation with the government of Japan, on the financing and associated commercial arrangements for our project for some years now. I am very sorry to say that despite the best efforts of everyone involved we’ve not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned. As a result we will be suspending the development of the Wylfa Newydd project, as well as work related to Oldbury, until a solution can be found. In the meantime we will take steps to reduce our presence but keep the option to resume development in future,” Duncan added.
The news was described by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) as a “serious blow” to the UK’s future energy security.
“This is an extremely disappointing decision that throws doubts on the future energy security of the UK. New nuclear power remains the best way of ensuring a secure future supply of low-carbon base load energy that is not reliant on external factors such as the weather,” commented CECA director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming.
“Once completed, Wylfa Newydd will create up to 850 permanent jobs, stay online for sixty years, and offer employment to future generations of skilled workers. Its cancellation would be a serious blow to hopes for regeneration to the economy not only of Wales, but the whole UK. We call on the UK government to act quickly to provide certainty, demonstrate its commitment to the nuclear sector, and to engage with both industry and potential investors to ensure the scheme goes ahead,” Marie-Claude concluded.