WYLFA NUCLEAR POWER STATION

Wylfa Nuclear Power Station

Wylfa Nuclear Station at Cemlyn Head, Anglesey



LATEST NEWS


HOPES & PLANS WHILE PARADISE POSTPONED

31 August 2010


In these troubled economic time with the current government promising stinging cuts in public service funding, it’s no exaggeration to state that the people of Anglesey are nervous about the proposed Wylfa New Build.

The work generated by the eventual operation and maintenance of the proposed 3,300 Megawatt station from 2020 would guarantee 800 permanent jobs to rise to about 1,000 and financially would bring in about £8billion into the local economy. This is a staggeringly important project for Anglesey.

It’s been long months now since Horizon Nuclear Power declared Wylfa as their preferred site for building a nuclear power station and the Government’s implied tentative policy on new nuclear power stations is worrying.

It’s intriguing that David Cameron, the PM appointed Chris Hunhe as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, a life-long objector to the important Energy role of Nuclear Power.





FUNDING CUTS TSUNAMI


As a backdrop to the Wylfa Nuclear project, it is a worrying fact that a significant amount of the revenue currently flowing into Welsh communities is generated from the Public Services, local government being a major employer.

Welsh unemployment is already among the worst in the UK, in the region of 9%. The significant public service cuts already signposted for the Government’s Autumn Spending Review could see spending cuts in the region of 15%.

The knock-on effect will be most certainly devastating and the cuts under Margaret Thatcher in the 80’s and 90’s would be as nothing compared to David Cameron’s proposals.

It’s important to remember that job losses would not only be among local authority workers but also for those construction companies who depend on public service contracts.

Many Welsh people already feel that Wales has lost its status as a country under the Government has become merely another UK region - cultural identity may therefore be diminished as a consequence.





PLANNING CONCERNS


But the project preparation process is continuing during this hiatus. It is intended that the six-year construction period would commence immediately planning permission is awarded.

That would generate 6,000 construction jobs, hopefully employing many Anglesey people; hopefully creating hundreds of apprenticeship opportunities. This is something towards which Coleg Menai is already inclining its Vocational Skills Curriculum.

The planning process, as mentioned, involves submitting an application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). Should matters remain the same then the submission should occur in February 2012. Construction should commence immediately, hence the enthusiasm for a successful application by Horizon.

Initial design work has already begun on the reactors and contracts have been signed with Areva and the Westinghouse Electric Company consortium, Nuclear Power Delivery UK (NPDUK) for preliminary work to be carried out.

There is however a ‘However’. Prior to the General Election the Conservative Party indicated its unhappiness with the existence of the IPC, which was set up to fast-track large strategic projects.

If the IPC is axed, then there is the danger that the previous planning process would once again be revived in the interim and that would mean endless public enquiries and extended delays to construction guaranteed.

Another ‘However’, however, is that the projected Future Energy Crisis demands swift action that Renewables would never be able to address. So, interesting and concerning times ahead.





INTERIM HOPES FOR THE LOCAL ISLAND COMMUNITIES?


Well there aren’t many to be perfectly honest with you. Employment opportunities may occur in the 10s, but the Island’s economy requires thousands of jobs not hundreds.

Not only to counter the hundreds that would be lost through the Government’s Public Service cuts, but also to cover those lost over the past few years and to create a future for those young people who will be finishing school in the interim.

Indirect revenue generation for the Island could also come from the desperate need that would occur for accommodation for the 6,000 construction workers. Anglesey has long been the home of hundreds of Wylfa contractors who stay here during the week. Week-day accommodation for 6,000 workers offers a very serious challenge.

Indeed, it provides a wonderful opportunity. Retail outlets have been suffering badly, as has the hospitality industry despite the obvious loyalty of visitors to the Isle of Anglesey. Increased employment, wages and local spending, improved quality of life etc ... etc ... etc. Hope for the future by a sustainable present.

This is going to call for joined-up thinking from both the Welsh Assembly Government and mainly Anglesey County Council.

Considering the antics and havoc caused by the various Councillor Groups on Anglesey in the recent past one has to wonder whether it is a task too great for them. Don’t get me wrong, among the hooligans are some very talented individuals and also Council officers.

However, we have worrying times ahead until the concerns over the IPC are resolved and planning permission is awarded, hopefully in 2013.


I’ll let you know the salient bits of news as they reveal themselves.



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CONSULTATION BEGINS ON NEW NUCLEAR BUILD

MARCH 2010


Earlier this week we received the news about the short-listing of Wylfa as one of 10 sites to achieve the requirements set down for nuclear build by the Westminster Government.

It has been suggested that the area’s economy could benefit to the sum of about £2billion, though I have yet to see any figures. However, the prospect of about 1,000 direct jobs - let alone contract employment - is extremely good news. There will also be about 9,000 construction jobs.

A new build would see the Wylfa site become a major site of employment on Anglesey because the de-commissioning of the current nuclear plant would be on-going. De-commissioning is set to be a 15-16 year high skilled project.

Most of the de-commissioning workers will be existing workers who have been re-trained. This was one of the major projects of the previous Site Manager, Greg Evans.





CONSULTATION


By 2017 it is projected that the UK will be confronted by major energy challenges and the Government has taken major steps to ensure that while there will be no extended public inquiries to delay eventual construction. As it is the new nuclear build would take 10 years to build and get up and running.

Ed Milliband, Secretary of State at the Department for Energy & Climate Control, has set up the Infrastructure Planning Commission to push through major schemes quickly. The IPC is based on the similar French agency employed for their nuclear builds.

A 14-week period of consultation will now take place with the local authority, local communities and other agencies making their representations.

One serious consideration will be the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in which the current plant is situated. Many of you will know about the beautiful coastline around Cemlyn Bay and Cemaes Bay.

The Island’s MP Albert Owen stated that these environmental questions were very important considerations that the IPC will have to take onboard.





A QUIET CONSULTATION?


I imagine that this process will create a great deal of furore as certain environmental groups will cry out that the IPC is stifling open representation; however, it is the local Island community’s view that is really important because they will have to live with the new nuclear power station.

The IPC consultation process is important for the proposed build because Wylfa is a preferred site at present and not a definite site.

So the games afoot.

The Media will probably be hoping for a bit of controversy and protest marches. If it occurs it'll be interesting to see how the local people respond.






WELSH ASSEMBLY POURS COLD WATER ON WYLFA PROPOSALS

NOVEMBER 10 2009


Major Welsh Assembly politicians yesterday declared a distinct lack of enthusiasm to yesterday’s positive news about Anglesey's nuclear future during BBC television interviews.

Rhodri Morgan, Labour’s Welsh First Minister, who has been anti-nuclear his entire career in politics, stated that he had a preference for a mixed approach to addressing the UK’s future energy demands. For Mr Morgan this shouldn’t include nuclear.

Ieuan Wyn Jones the Plaid Cymru AM, also stated that his party was opposed to nuclear power generation. However, to add the usual confusion about Plaid Cymru political integrity, Mr Jones stated that because Anglesey was suffering serious economic challenges he would back it.

Wylfa is the only nuclear operational power station in Wales, so he has completely negated his party’s stance on the nuclear issue. This feels more like Liberal Democrats varying their policies from constituency to constituency. Expediency rather than integrity.

At least Rhodri Morgan demonstrated some political courage by maintaining his position, while the President of Plaid Cymru shifted his party’s entire philosophy on the issue of nuclear power.

The usual question has been asked if the need was in South Wales what would Mr Morgan’s decision be. North Wales has always felt second-class citizens compared to the South.

Mr Morgan has form on this because he demonstrated reluctance to award significant grants to the Broughton Airbus factory that builds the wings for the giant A380 jetliner. Eventually he did, though, but it has not warmed the people of North East Wales to him.

Views expressed in Holyhead today declared great relief that the decision over nuclear power has not been devolved to the Cardiff Assembly Government. At least the vast majority of North Wales MPs have always backed a new nuclear build at Wylfa.

Is it any wonder that Anglesey is in such dire economic straits? Neither the Welsh First Minister nor the Economic Development Minister could declare wholehearted support for a development that has the strong backing of the Island community?

Other than make observations as part of the consultation process, the Welsh Assembly will have little say in this matter.

As a resident of Anglesey I am delighted by this forward thinking by the Westminster Government in keeping a firm hold on energy issues.



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WYLFA NEWS BRINGS A SIGH OF RELIEF TO ANGLESEY

NOVEMBER 9 2009


There was a time in the recent past that you were sneered at for even mentioning that you were in favour of nuclear power stations. How things have changed because of the inevitable and accepted energy shortfall that will confront the United Kingdom from 2017 onwards. Quite literally, the lights would go out.


A great many people on Anglesey will be resting a bit more comfortably this evening reflecting on the statement by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Milliband. Mr Milliband today listed ten locations in the United Kingdom as approved sites. ANGLESEY IS ON THAT LIST.

This is important in that it demonstrates a significant commitment by the UK Government to supporting nuclear as part of their plans to meet their Carbon Reduction Objectives.

The massive companies that have declared an interest in involvement in constructing of these new nuclear power plants will now feel a bit more comfortable about investing millions of pounds in exploratory and development work.






WYLFA AND ANGLESEY RUNNING OUT OF TIME


Wylfa Nuclear Power Station has been running out of time for many years and now with an end to energy generation due in December 2010, the campaign for a new build of power station on the site has been ‘hotting up’ over the past few years. It has taken an enormous amount of well-targeted lobbying by the Island’s MP, Albert Owen and Anglesey County Council.

Earlier this year, Wylfa was named by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown as one of a handful of ‘preferred sites’ for new build in the United Kingdom. One of the most important factors in Wylfa’s favour was the high profile support for the project of the local community and local authority.

Wylfa has been a significant employer on Anglesey since its construction in the late 1960s. We now have a third generation of employees now busy earning excellent incomes for their families and spending it in their own communities. Take out the importance of a UK-wide energy generation strategy; it is the employment that is important to the people of Anglesey.

To give you an idea, it is estimated that Wylfa in its current condition is worth in the region of £22million a year to the Island’s economy. The new build would cost in the region of £8billion, generating important construction employment as well as eventual full-time long-term employment probably in excess of 1,500 people.

The decommissioning of the existing power station will also create hundreds of jobs until at least 2025. The prospect of future prosperity would be further assured.

You’d be right to observe that not all the jobs would be directly local; however, as the nearby community of Cemaes Bay has learned of the years, the contractors go home at weekends but live there during the week.

Money through local tills is always a healthy condition for any community.






DISSENTING REASONABLE ARGUMENTS


Not everyone is in favour of the new build. P.A.W.B (People Against Wylfa B) has long been vociferous in its opposition to the current nuclear power station, let alone a brand new station. And to take a balanced view of its opposition it is correct to voice concerns over safety and nuclear waste management and disposal.

There is no defined strategy for the latter at present. I believe that the Westminster Government is intending that absolute necessity will drive the industry toward a feasible, affordable and acceptable solution to this significant issue.

There is also the concern that a nuclear build – in addition to the intended coal-fired power stations – is putting all the Government’s energy eggs in one basket. It is important to develop a feasible wide-ranging energy strategy that will incorporate, wind, wave and solar technology.

I do believe that while nuclear is the way forward for generating and meeting a significant proportion of the nation’s energy needs but there are wonderful opportunities for more localised energy generation by wind, solar and wave power stations.

As an island Anglesey is well-appointed for both wind and wave energy generation. The north of Anglesey is now dotted with wind turbine nurseries and they are enigmatic apparitions on the landscape. To build more would be aesthetically unacceptable, which is a point established in policy by the Anglesey Planning Department.

Companies have indeed demonstrated an interest in wave-power for Anglesey; however, this would need to be subsidised to a major part of costs, as private money is looking to the big projects. Remember though, nuclear power is also likely to be heavily subsidised. Nobody seems tobe happy to talk about a total figure for the UK nuclear energy project (and eventual decommissioning).






CURRENT PROGRESS


Those who have visited the Cemlyn/Wylfa area over the Summer will have noted that most of the homes in the area are boarded up. They have been compulsory purchased and now are sad distractions to an otherwise very pleasant drive from Tregele to Llanfairynghornwy. Site development and the new-build footprint will render these sites of habitation much too close for safety and security.

Potential developers JV - Horizon and RWE npower/e-on can now get on with the job knowing that the Westminster Government and the local community are supportive of the project.






ODD POLITICS


It is the United Kingdom that will make the major decisions on Planning, as they have adopted strategy similar to the French to push through new builds. This new attitude is required to put an end to delays to major projects by protracted public inquiries. Also, worth noting is that the decisions are removed from the Regional Assemblies.

The Welsh Assembly was a long-time opponent to nuclear power, which was another reason to make it very unpopular with the people of Anglesey. There has been a softening of that opposition over the past few months because of political pragmatism and plain common sense.

Interestingly enough the Island’s Assembly Member, Mr Ieuan Wyn Jones has backed the new build while being president of Plaid Cymru who are fundamentally opposed to nuclear power generation. Work that one out! In addition, he is the Assembly Economic Development Minister.

I’m sorry if people think that I am relentlessly having a pop at Plaid Cymru, but if they are to achieve any popular legitimacy then they have to shoot a few of the elephants they carry around with them from room to room.






CAREER ADVICE


That to one side, Anglesey has taken a major step toward the building of a new power station and this is important. Especially important for the confidence of an Island community and economy that has seen major job losses with the Eaton Electrical and Anglesey Aluminium closures in Holyhead.

If you’re young or with children then either re-train as an engineer or learn how to drive a fork-lift truck. There will inevitably be an imposition on future site managers to employ locally.

Don’t give them an excuse to reject you or your kids, get the qualifications now and urge your kids to do the same.


I’ll keep you briefed on any updates.



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Please feel free to share your thoughts regarding Wylfa by CLICKING HERE.





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