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Let’s power up Britain with new nuclear

(Alamy)

4 min read

I’m proud to represent the island of Anglesey, a place where the potential for nuclear energy to deliver economic growth is abundantly clear.

My patch - Ynys Môn - contains Wylfa, a designated nuclear site with huge potential. Leading nuclear experts have called it the “perfect site to build new nuclear”, thanks to its geology, location and community. Anglesey is known as “Energy Island” because of the various wind, wave, solar, tidal and hydrogen projects we have.  Yet we know our national energy grid must include more nuclear if we are to reduce our reliance on oil and gas. I want to ensure once again that North Wales is leading the way.

Nuclear is the most reliable, clean, low carbon energy generating technology available. Encouraging a nuclear industry to prosper in the United Kingdom would deliver billions in investment, kickstart thousands of long-term careers, and create hundreds of secondary and supply chain jobs from day one on every single project. That’s why I want Wylfa to be known as the UK’s leading nuclear hub. It’s why I have championed new nuclear power since the day I entered Parliament, and it’s why I am proud that Wylfa was listed as a key site for one of the government’s eight proposed new nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power stations here in the UK will help us to deliver genuine energy independence, just as North Sea oil and gas did in decades past

My support for this industry is rooted in the value I know it would bring to my constituents; local people deserve a good income and a future on Anglesey and that means we need high-quality skilled jobs. Secure well-paid, long-term local employment will stem the loss of our young people who currently leave in search of careers elsewhere, taking with them our Welsh language and breaking up our communities. I am determined to ensure that people across our island have a bright future and that future is on Anglesey.

But the benefits of new nuclear are bigger still; we cannot deliver net zero without it. The recent energy crisis has highlighted why we need more secure energy, to ensure our supply is not at the whim of trade relationships, climate events or international affairs. Nuclear power stations here in the UK will help us to deliver genuine energy independence, just as North Sea oil and gas did in decades past.

I was delighted to be at the launch of Great British Nuclear (GBN) in July with its CEO Gwen Parry-Jones. This agency must be a catalyst to bring new nuclear to the UK. After a decade of false starts, the government must ensure pace is kept up on its SMR competition. This process is intended to see contracts awarded to bidders to deliver a fleet of SMRs. While decisions are due in the next Parliament, we must fast track the awarding of contracts far in advance of 2029 to expedite the significant jobs and investment, and ensure new nuclear power is online by the early 2030s.

Wylfa is a big site, and my dream is to have a range of nuclear projects underway in the next five years. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, one of the companies who have announced their intention to enter the government’s SMR competition, have said they could have small reactors operational by the early 2030s, if consents were given speedily. I toured Wylfa with some senior GE Hitachi executives earlier this year and they agreed it would be an ideal site for the UK’s first fleet of SMRs. They plan to have the same design running in North America by 2029. The bottom line is this can be done. If we are serious about delivering economic growth and securing new streams of inward investment, we cannot afford to let opportunities like this pass us by.

I am determined to once again see the UK leading in nuclear on the global stage, strengthening the atomic bonds we had with the United States 50 or 60 years ago. We have all the pieces of the jigsaw to build a transformative industry, one which brings our net zero ambitions into sight. It won’t happen overnight, but nothing would make me prouder than seeing operational nuclear facilities at Wylfa, producing clean, renewable energy and distributing it to homes across Wales. And if we’re feeling generous, we could even think about giving some to England!

 

Virginia Crosbie, Conservative MP for Ynys Môn

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