The existing Wylfa power station, both of whose reactors have now been switched off (Image: Dreamstime.com/Gail Johnson)
Hitachi has confirmed that it is suspending all work on the £20bn Horizon nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd in Wales, with contractors warning its cancellation would be a “serious blow”.
The Japanese firm has been tipped to be on the point of scrapping the scheme because of mounting costs and has been in talks over funding with the government since June last year.
Around 400 jobs are thought to have been lost as a result of the suspension of work and if the project were to be scrapped, then an estimated 9,000 jobs that would have been created by the plant’s construction will not materialise.
Announcing the decision, Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power said: “We have made very strong progress on all aspects of the project’s development, including the UK design of our tried and tested reactor, supply chain development and especially the building of a very capable organisation of talented and committed people.
“We have been in close discussions with the UK government, in cooperation with the government of Japan, on the financing and associated commercial arrangements for our project for some years now. I am very sorry to say that despite the best efforts of everyone involved we’ve not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned.
“As a result we will be suspending the development of the Wylfa Newydd project, as well as work related to Oldbury, until a solution can be found. In the meantime we will take steps to reduce our presence but keep the option to resume development in future.”
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said the news was a “serious blow” to the UK’s future energy security.
CECA director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said: “This is an extremely disappointing decision that throws doubts on the future energy security of the UK.
“New nuclear power remains the best way of ensuring a secure future supply of low-carbon base load energy that is not reliant on external factors such as the weather.
“Once completed, Wylfa Newydd will create up to 850 permanent jobs, stay online for sixty years, and offer employment to future generations of skilled workers. Its cancellation would be a serious blow to hopes for regeneration to the economy not only of Wales, but the whole UK.
“We call on the UK government to act quickly to provide certainty, demonstrate its commitment to the nuclear sector, and to engage with both industry and potential investors to ensure the scheme goes ahead.”