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Hitachi confirms withdrawal from £20bn UK nuclear project

16 September 2020

Japanese engineering group Hitachi has officially confirmed to the Isle of Anglesey council that it is withdrawing from the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant project which was planned for Anglesey in north Wales. Activity at Wales’ largest ever energy project stopped in January 2019 after Hitachi failed to reach an agreement with the UK government on financing for the project.

Artist's image of the completed Wylfa plant - Image: Horizon Nuclear Power
Artist's image of the completed Wylfa plant - Image: Horizon Nuclear Power

Tokyo-based Hitachi sent a letter to Anglesey council this week confirming its decision.

In a statement on its website, Hitachi-owned Horizon Nuclear Power said it will be ceasing its activities to develop projects at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and at Oldbury on Severn in South Gloucestershire. Horizon said that it will now take steps for the orderly closing down of all its current development activities but will keep the lines of communication open with Government and other key stakeholders regarding future options at both sites.

Horizon’s Chief Executive Duncan Hawthorne said: “I understand this announcement will be disappointing for our many supporters who had hoped to see our project through to completion and I would personally like to thank you for your support throughout our time on this project.
 
“Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and Oldbury on Severn are highly desirable sites for new nuclear build.  We will do our utmost to facilitate the prospects for development which will bring the major local, national and environmental benefits that nuclear can uniquely deliver as we push to transition to a net zero carbon economy by 2050.”

Hitachi was understood to have been at loggerheads with the UK government over the price paid for electricity produced at the plant, which was to be set significantly lower than that paid to EDF Energy from the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station being built in Somerset.

The UK government had been willing to take a public stake in the project of at least £5bn to help the project, in a reversal of a decades-long policy of not investing directly in nuclear power. It was also willing to discuss a guaranteed price of power higher than offshore windfarms, but lower than Hinkley Point C.

In January 2019, Hitachi cited rising construction costs as the direct reason for the Wylfa project’s suspension following a board meeting in Tokyo. The group has already invested £2bn in the project.


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