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Ken Skates MS, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales

First published:
23 October 2020
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Shortly after the very disappointing news that Hitachi Ltd had decided to withdraw from the Wylfa Newydd site on Anglesey, I convened a round-table discussion to take stock of the implications of the announcement on the island and to agree next steps.  Joining me at the meeting were the Leader of Ynys Mȏn County Council, the Ynys Mȏn Member of the Senedd and Member of Parliament, the Secretary of State for Wales, the Chief Executive of Horizon Nuclear Power and other key stakeholders.  I would like to share with Members the outcome of those discussions.

There was clear agreement that Wylfa is still regarded as the best site in the UK for large scale nuclear development. The site, which could significantly contribute towards the 2050 zero CO2 emissions target, is supported by a strong, committed and well-established local partnership but that support and the community license to operate should not be taken for granted. 

During the round-table meeting, we agreed the need to continue pressing the UK Government for clarity on nuclear energy policy and crucially, on how any such policy is to be funded.  Clarity on UK Government policy and funding route is essential to unlock the site’s future potential.  We also agreed that an extension to the Wylfa Newydd Development Consent Order decision beyond 30 September would be beneficial, so that elements of value can be retained for any potential future site solution.  I welcome, therefore, the 3 month extension which has since been granted by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy, taking us to 31 December, 2020.  A rapid assessment of the socio-economic needs of the Island was also found to be an important requirement and we will be working closely with Ynys Mȏn County Council and key stakeholders on that assessment.

I will be holding regular quadrilateral discussions with the Leader of Ynys Mȏn County Council, the Secretary of State for Wales and Chief Executive of Horizon Nuclear Power over the coming months as potential site solutions are investigated.  

In the meantime, I can confirm that we intend to establish a new development company, Cwmni Egino, at Trawsfynydd.   Cwmni Egino will help exploit the huge economic benefits of small modular reactors and associated technologies at Trawsfynydd, including the potential for a medical research reactor, to provide a secure and sustainable supply of medical radioisotopes for Wales, the UK and Europe.

There is expertise and skill in the nuclear field in North Wales, with AMRC Cymru and developments at Bangor University, as well as the sites at both Trawsfynydd and Wylfa. I want to ensure we make the most of this and are at the forefront of new developments.  The establishment of Cwmni Egino shows our commitment to the nuclear sector in North Wales. We are also supporting the North West Nuclear Arc with the ambition to increase awareness of nuclear opportunities across North Wales.

The announcement by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority that a continuous decommissioning approach would be piloted at Trawsfynydd (subject to Business Case approval) is good news for the supply chain in Wales.  Decommissioning work should now continue on site until the late 2030s with both reactor buildings being fully demolished and the reactor cores removed using advanced robotic technologies.  Such expertise developed in Wales has significant export potential.

I aim to ensure we support the Welsh supply chain to fully participate in these opportunities and in those arising from the Hinkley Point C project.  We are offering support to the Wales Nuclear Forum, whose members have already been successful in gaining significant contracts and are in an excellent position to replicate their success on the Sizewell C project, should it be given the approvals to proceed.  

I will continue to keep Members up-dated as matters develop.