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£10bn Anglesey nuclear project should be built 'only if competitive' with renewables, say MPs

A nuclear power project that could create some 9,000 construction jobs should only go ahead if its cost are competitive with renewable energy, MPs have said.

The Welsh affairs committee said the £10bn Wylfa Newydd power station was important to the Isle of Anglesey’s economic future but should be built only “if the strike price is below that agreed for Hinkley Point C and competitive with renewable sources”, citing a lack of public confidence in the costs and safety of nuclear power.

The strike price refers to the price per unit of power guaranteed by the government.

The committee’s report, The Future of Nuclear Power in Wales, noted that developer Horizon Nuclear Power had forecast that Wylfa Newydd would need between 8,000 and 9,000 construction workers at its peak, only 2,500 of whom were likely to be available from the local area.

Wylfa Newydd would replace the original Wylfa plant, which is due to be decommissioned from 2019.

Horizon would spend £200m during the construction phase and some £20m on site preparation and clearance, creating some 2,000 jobs in the local supply chain, the report said.

In May, Horizon confirmed its delivery team for the project, with Bechtel and Japan’s JGC and Hitachi overseeing the work.

Planning permission has already been given for temporary accommodation for 3,500 workers, and a planning application made to improve the A5025 road to handle construction traffic.

Local organisations had voiced concern that this influx of workers would endanger Anglesey’s Welsh-speaking status and the committee noted the council leader had suggested that housing them in Holyhead – the main town – would go “some way towards mitigating the effects on the language”.

The committee also said that before Wylfa Newydd proceeded there should be transparency on costs and “a clear and comprehensible explanation of the lifetime cost of the project, including decommissioning and waste disposal”.

Committee chair David TC Davies said: “The government must prove that the cost of any nuclear development is well understood and competitive with renewable sources. These costs must be made public in a format that can be easily understood.

“There has to be a demonstrable benefit for the local community as well. Local businesses must form a key part of the supply chain and be given sufficient information to allow this to happen.”

The committee also called for faster progress on finding and building a geological disposal facility, which would enable the long-term safe storage of nuclear waste.

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