Wales minister says nuclear power remains a good investment


Staff Writer

While the nation debates the wisdom of restarting its nuclear power plants, the energy source remains central to some nations’ investments for tomorrow. The process to construct a new two-reactor facility in Wales has been going as planned, the British province’s economy minister said.

“There’s a confidence that the plant will be delivered, that it will work well, and that it will do good for the local community in terms of employment opportunities,” said Edwina Hart, economy minister of the National Assembly for Wales. She was speaking to The Japan Times last week during a working visit to Japan.

Horizon Nuclear Power, which is wholly owned by Hitachi Ltd., plans to build two advanced boiling water reactors on Anglesey Island.

Known as the Wylfa Newydd project, the program is currently at the community consultation phase. This involves soliciting opinions of local residents and authorities.

“People need to understand what things look like, how they look and everything,” said Hart.

“This type of engagement is very important,” she said.

When it comes to safety, prime responsibility lies with the operator. The U.K. government oversees the industry and the role of the Welsh Assembly is to get local companies involved in the supply chain and to provide a skilled workforce, she said.

Horizon says the community consultation is a pre-application process. It plans to submit an application for a development consent order in 2017, with completion and operation of the reactors anticipated in the mid-2020s.

“It’s a very long process. This is the issue. But the point is that it is a process that is proceeding as we would expect,” Hart said.

The firm says construction will create up to 8,500 jobs, while operation of the plant will require 900 to 1,000 new jobs.

Hart also visited Japan last year on a trade mission and tried to encourage Japanese companies to invest in Wales.

It apparently paid off, as she said Friday that Calby Inc., Japan’s biggest snack maker, had picked Wales as the location of its first investment in Europe.

The new facility will be a site for manufacturing and distribution, as well as research and development.

Wales hosted 50 Japanese firms as of 2012, including Sony and Toyota.

Another target for Wales is Japanese tourists.

For the past few years, Japanese visitors to the U.K. have numbered 220,000 to 245,000 annually.

They “tend to fly into Heathrow (airport), go into London, nip to the Lake District, the Cotswolds and up to Scotland, and go back down to Heathrow. So, we wanted them to make that journey further west into Wales. We do think there is a market and potential there,” said Hart, adding that she has met people in the travel industry and asked what appeals to Japanese tourists.

She said Wales offers a wide range of attractions, such as gardens, castles and coastal sites.

As for Scotland’s independence referendum in September, Hart said she was watching with interest because “what the Scots do affects all of us in terms of our respected devolution settlements.”

She said opinion polls show there is little support for independence in Wales, but people want to see further powers devolved to Wales from the U.K. government.

For instance, the Welsh government does not have power over railways and energy, she said.

Hart said while the Welsh government supported Scotland’s continued membership of the U.K., the independence movement has triggered discussion of devolution settlements across the U.K.

  • prothopectore

    Nuclear Power is OVER.

    Nuclear has been dead since the 80’s because of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. And now Fukushima cements nuclear as being a 20th century technology.

    1. It’s not a viable business. Nuclear Power makes 6% of the electrical energy of the world. That’s with about 400 nuclear power plants worldwide. These are old nuclear power plants. Our scientists tell us that to have any kind of impact on the so called “climate change”, we would need nuclear to make 20% of the electrical energy via nuclear to have the minimum impact. We would have to replace the out dated 400 reactors and build 1600 additional plants, 3 new nuclear plants would have to be built every 30 days for 40 years to get up to the 20%. And by then “climate change” will have run it’s course.

    2. We have no means or methods to dispose of or recycle the nuclear wastes. We’ve been creating nuclear wastes for 70 years now. 18 years and 8 billion dollars later Yucca mountain was a failure because of the fractures in the geologic formation, there are cracks in the mountain. WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) was designed as a secure containment for at least 10,000 years and it didn’t even last for 15 years without having a catastrophic release of radiation. Underground vaults are not secure.

    3. Uranium deficits. According to the International Atomic Energy Commission between 2025 and 2035 we start running out of Uranium with just the 400 operating plants we now have.

    4. Recycling used spent fuel into MOX fuel means we have Plutonium fuel, and plutonium is a really bad idea because of how lethal it is. With the uncertainty and instability around the world having Plutonium everywhere is a really bad idea.

    5. Water. Earth doesn’t have the water available to cool reactors. We can either use the water for agriculture and our ecosystems, or to cool nuclear power plants. France uses about 50% of its fresh water available to cool it’s nuclear plants. This is unsustainable. Water is one of the most inelastic of demands for life.

    6. Nuclear power is a form of centralized energy generation. The old fashioned electrical grid system is 20th century technology. The 21st century will utilize a decentralized electrical energy generation and distribution system. Solar, Wind, Wave, Geothermal….these are 21st century technologies that are collaborative and laterally scaled.

    All in all Nuclear is a bad business deal.

  • Tonyed

    The Anglesey County Council, unfortunately, are led by Plaid Cymru who are a Welsh nationalist/seperatist party. They represent a barrier to regional inward investment, not only by the lopsided nature of their politics, but also by pushing for the use of Welsh language as a prerequisite of conducting business and gaining employment in many professional sectors. Professionals with established careers and those with children progressing through education elsewhere do not see a move to this region of Wales as a ‘smart’ career move as the inability to communicate in Welsh would negatively impact their career prospects and disrupt their children’s educational progress.

    The counter argument doesn’t stack up. The impact is visible with the plain eye.

    Perhaps a more moderate political Anglesey County Council would help reverse the negative impact that Plaid Cymru are having on the region.