Wales politics

Nuclear power plants must be value for money, say MPs

Wylfa Image copyright Magnox
Image caption The Wylfa nuclear power plant on Anglesey was in operation from 1971 to 2015

Future nuclear power projects in Wales must be value for money and create jobs where they are built, MPs have said.

The Welsh Affairs Committee said it was satisfied with safety, but wanted clarity on costs.

It said Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey should only be built if its electricity costs no more than that from Hinkley Point C in Somerset, or from renewable sources.

The UK government said any proposed new sites would "need to offer value for money for the taxpayer".

MPs carried out an inquiry into the potential of fresh power generation at the two nuclear sites in north Wales.

A new £8bn station employing 1,000 people is planned for Wylfa to replace the plant which closed in December after operating for 44 years.

A replacement has also been mooted for the Trawsfynydd plant, in Gwynedd, which stopped generating power in 1991 and is being decommissioned.

The committee said it recognised a "notable lack of public confidence" in nuclear power following incidents such as the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Media captionFuture nuclear power projects in Wales must be value for money, says Welsh Affairs Committee chairman David Davies

However, committee chairman David Davies said MPs were "impressed by the level of scrutiny" of the UK nuclear industry and "reassured that the highest safety standards are followed".

"The key questions that need to be answered for future development of nuclear power at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd to be viable centre on value for money and local impact," he added.

"The [UK] government must prove that the cost of any nuclear development is well understood and competitive with renewable sources. These costs must be made public in a format that can be easily understood.

"There has to be a demonstrable benefit for the local community as well. Local businesses must form a key part of the supply chain and be given sufficient information to allow this to happen.

"We must also make use of the many skilled nuclear workers currently based in Wales and provide sufficient training to develop the next generation."

Image copyright Wylfa Newydd
Image caption An artist's impression of Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey

Doubts about the viability of Wylfa Newydd have surfaced amid negotiations about the "strike price" which ministers will pay for power generated by Hinkley Point C.

Major renewable projects such as the £1bn Swansea Bay tidal lagoon also depend on a strike price, which subsidises the investment by guaranteeing revenue above the market rate for electricity.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "New nuclear power stations will provide secure, clean and affordable electricity for consumers across the country.

"We are constantly working to get the best deal for consumers and any proposals for new sites, including Wylfa, will need to offer value for money for the taxpayer.

"It's estimated that the local north Wales economy around the proposed Wylfa site will benefit from around £50m and hundreds of jobs."

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