The UK Government will this week land taxpayers with a huge bill by agreeing to bankroll a £15 billion nuclear power station on Anglesey, amid highlighting huge splits in opposition Welsh political parties, it has emerged.
UK ministers will commit to taking a direct stake in the Wylfa Newydd plant, planned by the Japanese industrial giant Hitachi, after more than two years of negotiations, and it is understood the Government in London will also provide the vast bulk of the £9bn debt.
State equity will slash the cost of borrowing, but leave the taxpayer exposed if costs balloon or the project overruns.
We understand that this week’s heads of terms agreement, to be signed with Hitachi, will refer to “lessons learned” from the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C.
This dramatic news will focus on the problems for Labour and the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru.
At a UK level the left wing Labour leadership appears totally divided – with Jeremy Corbyn saying he wants more nuclear energy plants, while his close friend, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said his party would bring an end to nuclear power in the first 100 days of a Labour Government.
A few weeks ago, a shadow minister was quoted saying: “It’s like a wasp’s nest, the differences are really bad”.
In last year’s General Election, the party put support for a new nuclear power station in Wales at the heart of its election bid.
But for Plaid Cymru the problems are even more profound.
Plaid has long been seen as a ‘green energy’ party and is tearing itself apart over the new plant at Wylfa because of the thousands of jobs on offer.
The leader of Plaid, Leanne Wood, admitted there could be difficulties in a live BBC TV election debate in April 2016.
She said in terms of jobs on Anglesey, Wales had “put all our eggs in the nuclear basket” with 6,000 people working at Wylfa power station.
Those jobs appear to be central too for the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member (AM) for the island, Rhun ap Iorwerth.
In January 2013 he said: “There was nothing luke warm about the potential that Wylfa B (Wylfa Newydd) offers Anglesey in the selection meeting last night or among members of Plaid Cymru on Anglesey.
“We are very comfortable with the position taken by many members of the party throughout Wales in their principled stand on nuclear.
“Even though Labour tries to say we are split we will work to make the Wylfa development if it happens work for the people of Anglesey..”