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Hitachi mulls halting nuclear plant project

Sky News logo Sky News 11/01/2019
a display in a park: Hitachi says 'no formal decision' had been taken on the Wylfa Newydd project. Pic: Horizon Nuclear Power © Getty Hitachi says 'no formal decision' had been taken on the Wylfa Newydd project. Pic: Horizon Nuclear Power

Downing Street says negotiations with Hitachi to build a nuclear power station are continuing amid reports the firm is to halt the scheme.

Shares in the Japanese company soared by 9% on the Tokyo market after the Nikkei business daily reported it was to put the plan for the £20bn Anglesey plant on hold.

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Hitachi said "no formal decision" had been taken on the Wylfa Newydd project, but acknowledged its suspension was an option.

It follows concerns about rising building costs.

The halting of the scheme would represent a major blow to the North Wales economy, with the plant expected to provide 8,500 jobs at the height of its construction.

Once up and running by the mid-2020s it was set to create up to 850 permanent jobs, many of them highly skilled.

The Hitachi Intercity Express Programme train (IEP) production plant is pictured in Newyton Aycliffe, north-east England, on December 9, 2016.
Hitachi are set to build 122 Intercity Express Programme train (IEP) tains to replace the current trains on the Great Western and East Coast rail networks / AFP / SCOTT HEPPELL        (Photo credit should read SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP/Getty Images) The Hitachi Intercity Express Programme train (IEP) production plant is pictured in Newyton Aycliffe, north-east England, on December 9, 2016. Hitachi are set to build 122 Intercity Express Programme train (IEP) tains to replace the current trains on the Great Western and East Coast rail networks / AFP / SCOTT HEPPELL (Photo credit should read SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP/Getty Images)

It would also serve as a setback to the UK government's drive to move away from the reliance on dirty coal and meet global climate targets.

The 2900 MW plant, which it is proposed to build on a site next to the former Magnox Wylfa power station, could provide around 6% of Britain's energy needs

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "This is a major project with potentially significant economic benefits to Anglesey, North Wales and Wales.

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"We will continue to monitor the situation very carefully and press the UK Government do to everything it can to help bring this project to Anglesey."

A spokeswoman for Theresa May said talks with Hitachi were continuing.

"On Hitachi, the negotiations on that are ongoing and those are obviously commercially sensitive so I can't comment," she said.

In a statement, Hitachi said: "No formal decision has been made in this regard currently, while Hitachi has been assessing the Horizon project, including its potential suspension and related financial impacts in terms of economic rationality as a private company."

a large city landscape: It was planned to build the new plant next to the former Magnox Wylfa power station © Getty It was planned to build the new plant next to the former Magnox Wylfa power station

A spokesman for the UK government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: "Negotiations with Hitachi on agreeing a deal that provides value for money for consumers and taxpayers on the Wylfa project are ongoing.

"They are commercially sensitive and we do not comment on speculation."

Towards the end of last year, Toshiba scrapped its UK nuclear venture behind the development of the planned Moorside power station in Cumbria.

The Japanese engineering firm revealed its NuGen project was to be shut down after its US reactor unit Westinghouse went bust.

The developments have been seized on by anti-nuclear campaigners.

Sara Medi Jones, acting general gecretary of CND, said: "The government's nuclear energy policy is in tatters. Two major international investors have now suspended plans to build nuclear reactors here in Britain.

"Toshiba withdrew from the Moorside plant just a few weeks ago, and now Hitatchi appears to have reached the same conclusion, that new nuclear isn't economically viable."

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