Ministers U-turn on Welsh nuclear power station deal

Posted On: 
5th June 2018

The Government has confirmed it intends to take a stake in a Welsh nuclear power plant after previously ruling out the move.

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the move to the Commons
PA Images

Business Secretary Greg Clark confirmed that the UK would be committing £5bn of UK taxpayers' cash into the Wyfla nuclear power plant in Wales.

The move is a marked U-turn from the Government after previously ruling out direct investment in nuclear projects.

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Ministers said they would be entering into negotiations with Japanese conglomerate Hitachi with the aim of reaching a joint finance deal.

Announcing the decision to MPs, Mr Clark said: "For this project the Government will be considering direct investment alongside Hitachi and Japanese government agencies."

The proposed plant would produce thousands of jobs and could generate electricity to power up to five million UK homes – around six percent of the country’s total demand.

In 2010 the Conservatives pledged that there would be "no public underwriting of construction cost overruns".

However, the Government has rowed back amid reports that the Japanese giant was considering scrapping the deal.

Mr Clark said: "We listened to the NAO and PAC [public spending watchdogs] and thought it appropriate to explore a different way to deliver this deal.

"A key focus of discussions with Hitatchi has been and will continue to be providing lower-cost electricity for consumers."

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey welcomed the news but added: "I am deeply concerned in how the financing has been or will be negotiated, namely the lack of parliamentary scrutiny so far."

The controversial plan has already drawn the ire of some environmental groups, however, with Greenpeace saying the Government’s involvement amounted to a “bailout” of the project.

Green co-leader Caroline Lucas meanwhile blasted ministers for the move, saying: "Taking a stake in this nuclear monstrosity would see taxpayers locked into the project and paying out for a form of electricity generation that’s not fit for the future."