Ministers must take decisive action over the future of nuclear energy in the UK if ambitious energy targets are to be met, MPs have argued in a new report.
The paper, published on Wednesday by the Welsh Affairs Committee, said the UK Government’s commitment to increasing nuclear energy production is still lacking despite the issue having risen up the policy agenda in recent years.
It urged leaders to secure the financial and land ownership agreements needed for the proposed Wylfa Newydd project in North Wales to go ahead.
The £20 billion gigawatt-scale development on the Anglesey coastline is said by the report to be vital to the Government realising its ambition for nuclear energy to meet up to a quarter of UK electricity demand, around 24GW, by 2050.
The aim is part of the UK Government’s plan to enhance energy security and deliver on net zero.
The UK currently generates about 15% of its electricity from about 6.5GW of nuclear capacity.
The Wylfa project could support 10,000 jobs during the construction phase and 900 permanent jobs once the power station is operational, according to evidence heard by the committee.
But major obstacles remain in the way of securing capital investment for the project, the report warned.
Rising costs and a failure to reach a financial agreement with the UK Government led to the formerly Hitachi-led development being suspended in January 2019.
The cancellation caused shock and disappointment throughout the local community and sparked concerns over the UK’s renewable energy agenda.
The continued ownership of the site by Hitachi’s UK subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power is seen as a further barrier to progress, and the committee called on the Government to encourage the company to sell it or join other developers to enable a future development to proceed.
“Despite the positive policy changes and stronger rhetoric from ministers about nuclear, a new power station at Wylfa is still far from certain.
“Important obstacles remain on financing which is limiting private sector investment, and on the issue of land ownership which is preventing a new developer coming in.
“We must see concrete action on addressing these issues before the next general election, otherwise the uncertainty about the project will increase.
“A gigawatt-scale nuclear energy project at Wylfa would be a game-changer for the north Wales economy.
“The enormous investment would illustrate levelling-up in action, creating well-paid, high-skilled jobs, and we would be a step closer to energy independence.”