Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Anglesey nuclear expansion row

Wylfa nuclear power station
The existing Wylfa station is due to stop production next year

The Welsh Assembly Government is at odds with MPs over the prospect of a new nuclear power station on Anglesey.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said the government in Wales remains opposed to new nuclear plants despite the approval of Wylfa as a potential site.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said nuclear expansion on the island would provide vital jobs and a "stable energy mix".

Anglesey MP Albert Owen says the island must retain its nuclear skills or else they will "drift away to England".

The current Wylfa power station has permission to continue electricity production until December 2010.

On Monday Energy and Climate Change Secretary announced 10 UK sites, including Wylfa, deemed suitable for nuclear expansion.

"I want to promote Wales as an energy country, green energy country, but we're going to need low carbon for that and nuclear's going to provide i.
Albert Owen MP

The island's council estimates it could bring £8bn into the local economy creating thousands of jobs building the plant and up to 1,000 running it.

But Rhodri Morgan said there is no need for more nuclear and says he is worried about the waste.

He told BBC Radio Wales: "We see no need for new nuclear in Wales because there's such a phenomenal amount of interest in renewable energy.

"But we are very sympathetic to the economic needs of north west Anglesey.

"Its one of the most harshly hit areas by general economic difficulties and in particular exacerbated by the closure of the smelter on September 30.

"We don't want new nuclear power to be sucking all the capital out of the renewables industry because there's such a phenomenal amount of interest in the renewables hub that Wales could become."

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But MP Albert Owen said Mr Morgan "has got it wrong because nuclear and renewables can co-exist".

"And if we are going to build a low-carbon economy for the future, then we really need a base load and the only way to provide that base load is to have nuclear.

"We're going to have less and less coal and gas imports in Wales and we're a net contributor of electricity at the moment. Close the nuclear power station, just go for renewables and you're going to have to import more electricity.

Mr Owen said: "I want to promote Wales as an energy country, green energy country, but we're going to need low carbon for that and nuclear's going to provide it. And of course its got a skills base and jobs for life.

"If we don't invest in skills in nuclear, then the skills will simply drift away to England."

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Anglesey's Plaid Cymru AM, said: "I think we can be pleased that the UK government has stated its position in terms of nuclear energy.

"And, of course, in the case of Anglesey it will be seen very much like an economic argument bearing in mind that we've lost so many manufacturing jobs in recent months and there's an opportunity now to look forward to the future."

Public consultation events on the expansion will take place in Anglesey in January 2010.

The final decision on where any new nuclear plants are built will be taken by a new independent commission.

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