Power game

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Theresa May’s UK Government is about to back Wylfa Newydd

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.

Hinkley – ‘lessons learned’

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.

Corbyn and McDonnell – ‘a wasp’s nest’

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”.

Corbyn in Copeland with aide, councillor and GMB rep. Sam Pollen

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.

While Mr McDonnell seems to be stridently opposed to nuclear power, Mr Corbyn appears to be aware that a lot of politicial support comes with the jobs it provides, and in January 2017, on a visit to Copeland (which includes the Sellafield nuclear plant) before the by-election there, he said that nuclear power should be part of the UK’s “energy mix”.
Carwyn Jones and Christina Rees campaigned for renewables

Meanwhile the differences for Welsh Labour are also marked.

Both support for the Wylfa Newydd plans AND renewable energy were stressed by Welsh Labour before its election manifesto was launched in May last year, and in a forward the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, along with the shadow Welsh secretary Christina Rees. said:  “We’ll stop the prevarication over the (renewable energy) Swansea Tidal Lagoon… we’ll get on and make these things happen”.
Leanne Wood putting all her eggs in one basket

Tidal Lagoon Power, a Gloucester-based company, has been pushing for several years to build the first of five lagoons at Swansea, to harness power from the ebb and flow of the tides.

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.

Rhun ap Iorwerth likes nuclear jobs on Anglesey

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.

There’s nothing luke warm about Rhun ap Iorwerth

“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..”

Yet the Plaid manifesto seems to be clear, and for the General Election the party stated:  Plaid Cymru will increase energy generation from renewables …”.  Jobs v policy is a tough choice and this week political parties may be forced to choose between them.
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