UK agrees to further deferral of Wylfa planning decision

04 January 2021

A decision on planning consent for the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant project on Anglesey has been deferred for a second time, as requested by Horizon Nuclear Power, the UK project developer owned by Japan’s Hitachi.

The deadline for a DCO decision on the Wylfa Newydd project has been extended to 30 April (Image: Horizon)

Horizon was to develop two UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor units at the site in North-West Wales, with the intention to contribute to the energy policy of the UK government, as well as maintaining the business foundation that supports the nuclear industry in Japan.

On 16 September, however, Hitachi announced it will end its business operations on the Wylfa project, which it had suspended in January 2019, and Horizon said it would take steps for the "orderly closing down" of all its current development activities.

On 22 September, Horizon CEO Duncan Hawthorne wrote to Gareth Leigh, head of energy infrastructure planning at BEIS, requesting the delay to a decision on the Development Consent Order (DCO) for the Wylfa project from 30 September to 31 December. Hawthorne wrote to Leigh again on 18 December, requesting deferral until 30 March, but Alok Sharma, secretary of state for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, has re-set the statutory deadline for the DCO application to 30 April.

In his letter dated 18 December, Hawthorne wrote: "In our previous correspondence I referred to discussions with third parties that have expressed an interest in progressing with the development of new nuclear generation at the Wylfa Newydd site in Anglesey, Wales. These discussions with multiple parties have been positive and encouraging with regards to finding a way forward in Hitachi Ltd’s absence. Given the complexities involved in any large infrastructure project, these talks are still ongoing, and my team and I are continuing to work hard to bring them to a conclusion."

Referring to the UK government's announcement in November of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and the subsequent publication of the Energy White Paper last month, Hawthorne said the Wylfa project presented a way for the country "to deliver a net- zero carbon economy and level up the economy".

Hawthorne wrote: "A further short deferral would allow us to conclude discussions to deliver a clear outcome for the Wylfa Newydd project, and to settle on our position regarding development consent. We believe this would serve to support HM Government policy and would represent a pragmatic and aligned course of action. I recognise that any decision to set a new deadline for determining the Wylfa Newydd DCO Project is without prejudice to the Secretary of State’s decision on whether to grant or refuse a development consent order."

In his response, dated 31 December, Sharma said a written ministerial statement confirming the new deadline will be made to the House of Commons and House of Lords in accordance with section 107(7) of the Planning Act 2008 "as soon as possible". He added: "However, please note that I will require any updated information from the Applicant by 31 March 2021 in order that I have sufficient time to consider it before taking my decision on or before 30 April 2021."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News