New nuclear reactor set for Anglesey

Npower urges Government to give its plans the green light as old facility prepares to close
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A leading power firm has secured a grid connection for a new nuclear power station and acquired options to buy farmland next to an existing nuclear site.

Npower said the connection at Anglesey in North Wales could see enough electricity generated to supply more than five million homes.

The firm, owned by German giant RWE, said it also had options to buy land at Wylfa, near the Magnox nuclear power station, which is due to close next year, but would consult residents before making any firm plans.

Andrew Duff, the chief executive of npower, said the area would benefit from a new station.

"Anglesey's nuclear heritage means it has great potential as a location for new nuclear build. A new station at Wylfa could deliver significant economic benefits to the area through direct investment, employment and supply chain opportunities.

"Transfer of skills, as the existing station is decommissioned and a new one constructed, could provide a real boost for the nuclear industry on Anglesey."

Mr Duff called on the Government and regulators to clear the way for investment in power generation and said without it, the UK faced shortages.

"Nuclear energy can provide clean, secure and affordable electricity supplies in the mid and long term, but the country also needs early and significant investment in a diverse mix of power generation in order to reconcile climate targets and security of supply.

"There is an urgent need to bridge the energy gap opening up over the next five years as a result of the closure of older coal and nuclear stations."

Npower had committed to offshore wind farms, new gas power stations at Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire and Pembroke in West Wales and a carbon capture and storage demonstration plant at Didcot in Oxfordshire.

Mike Graham, the national officer of Prospect, which represents nuclear workers, said the announcement was the most positive sign yet that a new station would be built on Anglesey.

"RWE npower now has the go-ahead for grid connections that would feed 3.6 gigawatts of electricity into the national grid, filling a major gap in the UK's future energy generation.

"For North Wales, and particularly Anglesey, the building of a new nuclear power station will create many hundreds of construction jobs in the near future, with massive positive impact on the local economy. In the longer term it will mean between 1,000 and 1,200 highly skilled permanent and well-paid jobs for nuclear experts.

"When the current Wylfa power station ceases to generate there will be an opportunity for the younger staff to find new roles, giving continuity of employment and retaining vital skills within the industry in an area where there is already a major jobs shortage."

The Labour MP for Ynys Mon, Albert Owen, said: "I've long argued that Wylfa is a prime site for new nuclear generation and the announcement by RWE npower confirms the potential of Wylfa that would benefit the local economy and play an important role in the low carbon energy security of the country."

Councillor Phil Fowlie, the leader of Anglesey County Council, said: "We welcome the continued interest and positive progress being made by the private sector to ensure Wylfa remains an important energy generating and employment centre. Ensuring energy generation remains at Wylfa for future generations is a major priority for the county council, and we are eager to work in partnership with all potential private sector companies."