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From the Senedd: Llyr Huws Gruffydd

30/03/2022

By Llyr Huws Gruffydd, AM.

It was 9am and I was on my way to a meeting of the Assembly’s Environment and Sustainability Committee. I had studiously read the evidence papers and prepared my lines of questioning for the main focus of the meeting which was to scrutinise Horizon Nuclear Power on their proposals for Wylfa B.

As I crossed the Oriel in the Senedd I saw Tom Bodden from the Daily Post heading straight towards me. I knew that something was up but I certainly didn’t expect to be told of breaking news that E.ON and REW npower had shelved plans for the new nuclear power station on Anglesey.

As I arrived in committee we were informed that Horizon would not bepresent after the 2 main players in the Wylfa B plans had pulled out. Quite a shock and quite unexpected.

It has become clear that the aspirations of the UK in terms of nuclear is very different to those in Germany. Whilst the UK Government is planning to build a number of new nuclear power stations Germany is moving away from nuclear. This refocusing of energy policy is no doubt one of the reasons that these German-owned companies have decided to drop their involvement in all nuclear programmes in the UK.

Despite Horizon’s no-show, the committee still had an opportunity to receive evidence from Nuclear Free Local Authorities which, as its name suggests, is a group of 50 local authorities in the UK opposed to nuclear.

One of the most telling facts presented was that the UK Government is planning for a doubling or tripling of electricity demand by 2050 whilst Germany is planning for a 25% reduction through its energy efficiency programmes.  Achieving a similar reduction in demand here would remove the need for new nuclear reactors inthe UK.

Germany has put in place new incentives to support the renovation of buildings and is using the auction revenue from the European Emissions Trading Scheme for renovation programmes. It has also put in place special tax reductions for the renovation of buildings. Together 3.4 billion euros will go towards a lower energy consuming, modernised building sector in Germany. This, along with other measures and investment in renewable energy, will allow Germany to enjoy a future without the need for nuclear energy and its legacy of radioactive waste.

Whether in favour or against Wylfa B, this decision by Horizon Nuclear Power has reminded us all of how Wales is in danger of being at the mercy of large multi-national companies when it comes to realising our energy potential and meeting our future energy needs.

Decisions on large energy projects in Wales, whether in nuclear or renewables, should be made first and foremost in the interests of the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Welsh communities – not in the interests of the bottom lines of big foreign energy companies.