Commentary

Statement on Wylfa nuclear power station

The Board of Hitachi are rescuing the Government from an expensive and damaging mistake.

We already know how expensive new nuclear will be because of our experience with Hinkley. For that project to go ahead the Government had to buy all of its electricity for the next 35 years at more than twice the current price and force consumers to pay the difference.

Wylfa would require support on the same scale though the Government is trying to find novel ways of providing it. All of those ways would force consumers to pay more for their electricity than they would otherwise need to and runs directly contrary to the concern for energy bills that has led to the current cap.

There are far cheaper and quicker ways currently available to the Government to reduce carbon emissions and simultaneously lower consumer’s energy bills, in particular by bringing the efficiency of all UK homes up to EPC Band C level.

The National Audit Office has already made clear that Hinkley was not value for money and it is highly unlikely that Wylfa would be able to reduce costs sufficiently to pass this test. The underlying case for new nuclear investment on this scale has collapased.

If experienced private investors do not think Wylfa or Moorside were worth the risk why does this Conservative Government think it knows better? It is time this whole nuclear policy was properly and transparently reviewed.

The Government does need to intervene in the electricity market in order to ensure we meet our climate targets and provide affordable, secure electricity to consumers, but it needs to invest the faster, cheaper and more deliverable non-nuclear options that are the future of electricity generation.

Listen to Tom Burke discuss the halting of work on Wylfa on the BBC World Business Report.