Anglesey housing shortage fear with new Wylfa B jobs

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Wylfa nuclear power station
Image caption,
The current plant has been given permission to continue to generate electricity until 2012.

Experts have warned there might not be enough homes on Anglesey if the Wylfa B nuclear power station goes ahead.

There is a claim that politicians might be "mesmerised" by the promise of jobs without preparing for the full impact.

Wylfa has been confirmed among eight sites around the UK - all adjacent to existing nuclear locations - as suitable for a new power station.

Anglesey council's head of housing services said it would be a challenge, but officials were planning ahead.

Last month the consortium behind plans for a new nuclear power station on Anglesey welcomed a UK government decision to list the site as suitable for the next generation of plants.

Wylfa was among those deemed suitable for new power stations by 2025.

Horizon Nuclear Power said its plans could create hundreds of jobs, although an anti-nuclear campaigner claimed the case in favour of Wylfa B was weak.

Horizon, a joint venture between E.on UK and RWE npower, expects its proposals for Wylfa to be available for public consultation early next year.

Some experts fear, however, that the housing stock on the island will be too small to cope with the workforce.

"There are many, many, examples throughout Britain in the last 15-20 years where this has happened: Sizewell B, Hinckley Point and closer to home in Milford Haven's oil and gas terminal," said Dr Owain Llewellyn, of the University of Glamorgan.

He said there was a risk that politicians, particularly local ones, could become "mesmerised by the attraction of jobs and the economic development implications of that, without thinking through the full implications of the supply and demand aspects of the residential sector".

'Incredible pressure'

Dr Llewellyn, a senior lecturer in real estate and property at the faculty of advanced technology, said it was already a period of incredible pressure on both the private and public housing market, and he did not foresee any changes to that in the near future.

Sian Williams, the head of housing services at Anglesey council, said it was "a challenge rather than a concern".

"We need to make sure we have enough affordable housing on the island, not only for the people who live on Anglesey, but also for contractors who may be coming to the proposed Wylfa B development," she said.

Ms Williams said although there had been no decision on any Wylfa B plans the council had already undertaken research into possible options of how the housing market would cope.

"The council has opted for the option where a third of the contractors live in purpose built accommodation, another third in the private rented sector and a third in property from the tourism sector," she said.

Melfyn Williams, an estate agent, said it was not known yet how much demand there would be if the new power station was built.

"Certainly there will be an increase in the short-term [in demand] and currently there is not enough supply on the island to meet the expected demand, so something is going to have to happen," he said.

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