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Government rejects claims of deal on £10bn Welsh nuclear plant

The government has rejected claims it has struck a deal with developer Hitachi to provide financial guarantees for its planned £10bn nuclear power plant in north Wales.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) dismissed newspaper reports from Japan, which claimed Theresa May had personally pledged to give UK financial backing to the Wylfa Newydd plant in Anglesey.

Earlier this week, Japanese newspaper Mainichi ran a story claiming the prime minister had given the project the go-ahead during a meeting with Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi.

The report claimed Mrs May had agreed to offer the company UK government loan guarantees to kick-start construction of the plant.

A BEIS spokeswoman said: “We don’t recognise these reports.

“Nuclear power remains a crucial part of the UK’s energy future but we have always been clear that this must be delivered at the right price for consumers and taxpayers.

“This principle runs through all our engagement with any new-build developers. These discussions are commercially sensitive and we have no further details at this time.”

Hitachi’s Wylfa Newydd is slated to be the next major nuclear new-build in the UK after the £18bn Hinkley Point C project currently being constructed in Somerset.

In 2015, American engineering giant Bechtel and Japanese firm JGC were chosen by Hitachi’s Wylfa development arm Horizon as the EPC contractor for the scheme.

Since then, Hitachi has been locked in discussions with UK government over the level of financial support it is willing to provide.

The government agreed to provide loan guarantees of £2bn for Hinkley Point C, while also agreeing a strike price of £92.50 – the money the government pays for electricity produced by the plant.

The Hinkley deal has subsequently been labelled “risky” and “too expensive for taxpayers” by the National Audit Office.

In an interview in The Times last year, Horizon chief executive Duncan Hawthorne said that loan guarantees from the UK government would be sufficient for Wylfa and the project would require direct investment, too.

In a separate interview with the FT, Mr Hawthorne said Hitachi would be looking to agree the terms of financing with the government by the middle of this year, or it could review its backing of the project.

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