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Hitachi 'positive' on Wylfa nuclear station

The Welsh economy minister has insisted that Hitachi is ‘positive’ about its proposed new nuclear plant in Wales despite continuing uncertainty over the sector in the UK.

Edwina Hart told Construction News she met Hitachi last month and that they continue to be “very positive about the negotiations”.

Japanese technology firm Hitachi acquired the Horizon Nuclear Power joint venture from RWE and E.On last year and plans to build up to six new nuclear reactors at its sites Wylfa on Anglesey, and Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

The schemes could create around 12,000 construction jobs.

Negotiations are ongoing between the Department of Energy and Climate Change and EDF Energy over the strike price for contracts for difference, which will offer EDF a long-term price guarantee for electricity generated at the site.

The successful conclusion to the negotiations are seen as indicative of the future success of UK new nuclear.

Ms Hart spoke at last week’s Welsh launch of the Creating Britain’s Future campaign to promote the benefits of investing in construction and the industry’s ability to deliver world-class projects.

There, she outlined the significance of the construction industry to economic regeneration and the Welsh government’s plans for construction spending.

Ms Hart insisted that housebuilding was picking up in Wales and that there was “evidence of tentative signs of recovery” in the sector.

She welcomed plans to build a new prison in north Wales, announced by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander after the spending round last week.

Wales had been one of three possible locations for the new prison alongside London and the North-west to house more than 2,000 inmates.

It will have a total investment of £250m (of which £100m will be invested in 2015-16) to build the new prison and the government said it would help to deliver savings of £20m a year from 2017-18.

Analysis by the UK Contractors Group shows that construction provides 6.4 per cent of employment in Wales, or 89,000 jobs (see box, below).

Starts in recent years have been driven by renewable energy while social housing has also seen a boom with starts in 2012 worth £239m. Future planning approvals are largely driven by public sector housing and education, alongside work on major energy projects.

At the campaign launch, guests heard about Welsh construction schemes being built by major contractors including Balfour Beatty, Vinci and Willmott Dixon.

Welsh government construction panel chairman and former chief operating officer for Vinci David Joyce said: “This important campaign facilitates the open dialogue between government and the construction industry, which is key to ensuring investment in the industry.

“By working together we can drive forward local construction activity and combat the economic challenges which face communities across Wales.”

UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe said: “It is vital that the government and the industry work together in order to do everything in their power to foster projects like the world class Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm, which provides a much needed boost to the Welsh economy and creates local jobs for people from all educational backgrounds.”

A new Wales Office infrastructure working group has been established to explore the key priorities for infrastructure development with a view to boosting the Welsh economy.

The group will include representatives from Welsh industry, the UK Treasury, Welsh secretary David Jones and Wales Office minister Stephen Crabb MP.

Creating Britain’s Future:

  • With unemployment in Wales above the UK average, construction currently provides 6.4 per cent of employment in Wales, or 89,000 jobs.
  • Construction in Wales was hit hard by the recession but is showing a steady recovery. The value of construction output was £4.1bn in 2012 (although this is below pre-2008 levels).
  • Underlying project starts were £1.7bn last year, almost back to peak levels.
  • Starts in recent years have been driven by renewable energy – particularly work on the £750m Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm, one of the largest in Europe; social housing has also seen a boom with starts in 2012 worth £239m.
  • Future planning approvals are largely driven by public sector housing and education; alongside work on major energy projects.
  • The construction sector in Wales comprised 11,310 businesses in 2011; 11,155 of which were SMEs.



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