Page last updated at 06:49 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

New nuclear plant's step forward


Power firm Npower said it would consult with Anglesey residents before making any firm plans for a new power station

A power firm has secured a connection to the National Grid for a possible new nuclear power station on Anglesey.

Npower has also been given the option to buy farmland close to the island's Wylfa nuclear power plant, which is set to stop generating electricity in 2010.

The company said a new plant could provide electricity to five million homes and its chief executive said it is serious about new nuclear options.

The Department for Business is looking at suitable sites for new stations.

Energy companies have been invited to bring forward their proposals, ahead of a final decision.

The current Wylfa station, which opened in 1971 and employs about 800 people, is due to close and be decommissioned.

But there has been a local campaign to secure one of the new generation of nuclear stations for the area.

The latest development towards hopes of a Wylfa B has been welcomed by union and local community leaders.

Npower, owned by German energy giant RWE, said it would consult local residents before making any firm plans.

Chief executive Andrew Duff said: "We are serious and committed to progressing new nuclear options. Anglesey's nuclear heritage means it has great potential as a location for new nuclear build.

There is an urgent need to bridge the energy gap opening up over the next five years as a result of the closure of older coal and nuclear stations
Npower chief executive Andrew Duff

"A new station at Wylfa could deliver significant economic benefits to the area through direct investment, employment and supply chain opportunities.

"Transfer of skills, as the existing station is decommissioned and a new one constructed, could provide a real boost for the nuclear industry on Anglesey."

The company is already involved in the development of a new modern gas power station at Pembroke in west Wales, and is progressing offshore wind farms at Gwynt-y-mor and Rhyl Flats in north Wales.

Ensuring energy generation remains at Wylfa for future generations is a major priority for the county council
Anglesey council leader Phil Fowlie

Mike Graham, national officer of Prospect, which represents nuclear workers, said the announcement was the most positive sign yet that a new nuclear power station would be built on Anglesey.

He said: "RWE Npower now has the go-ahead for grid connections that would feed 3.6 GW of electricity into the national grid, filling a major gap in the UK's future energy generation.

"For north Wales, and particularly Anglesey, the building of a new nuclear power station will create many hundreds of construction jobs in the near future, with massive positive impact on the local economy.

"In the longer term it will mean between 1,000 and 1,200 highly skilled permanent and well-paid jobs for nuclear experts.

"When the current Wylfa power station ceases to generate there will be an opportunity for the younger staff to find new roles, giving continuity of employment and retaining vital skills within the industry in an area where there is already a major jobs shortage."

'Positive progress'

Albert Owen, Labour MP for Ynys Mon, said the announcement would "benefit the local economy and play an important role in the low carbon energy security of the country".

While Phil Fowlie, leader of Anglesey council, added: "We welcome the continued interest and positive progress being made by the private sector to ensure Wylfa remains an important energy generating and employment centre.

"Ensuring energy generation remains at Wylfa for future generations is a major priority for the county council, and we are eager to work in partnership with all potential private sector companies."

However Dylan Morgan from the People Against Wylfa B protest group claimed the economy in Anglesey would not be greatly affected if a new nuclear power station was not built.

He argued that the current decomissioning of Wylfa A meant that many people would keep their jobs and that this process could take over a century to complete.

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