More work needed to consider effects of Wylfa Newydd on Gwynedd says Council

Date 16/01/2018

Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment has written to the company that intends to develop the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant to ask that far more consideration of the possible side-effects on Gwynedd be incorporated into their final plans.

In response to a recent informal consultation by Horizon Nuclear Power, Councillor Dafydd Meurig has expressed disappointment that Gwynedd Council’s previous comments submitted to consultations over the last three years have so far been disregarded.

Whilst acknowledging that the proposed development of Wylfa Newydd is extremely significant for the whole of the north west Wales area, in his letter to Horizon, Gwynedd’s Cabinet Member has expressed disappointment that the company has not amended their proposals following the Council’s submissions to previous consultations.

Councillor Dafydd Meurig, Gwynedd Council Environment Cabinet Member said:

“There is no doubt that the proposed development of Wylfa Newydd on Ynys Môn offers opportunities for the local economy, including here in Gwynedd. However, it is also bound to create challenges for us as a county in terms of issues like infrastructure and transport, housing stock that may be needed for workers during the construction period, the local labour market, public services and the Welsh language.

“I have therefore written to Horizon Nuclear Power to express our concerns that there has been unwillingness so far in terms of considering the impact of the development on Gwynedd. Indeed, there is very little reference made to the potential side effects on Gwynedd at all in the company's latest consultation documents.

“As a Council, we are concerned that a large number of the company’s plans have been based on specific assumptions, and we are eager that Horizon addresses any lessons to be learned from the Hinkley Point nuclear power station development in Somerset. There, unforeseen side effects are being experienced, and it should be remembered that around 5,600 workers are the most expected at Hinkley Point, compared with up to 9,000 workers during the Wylfa Newydd construction phase.

“Gwynedd Council therefore calls on Horizon Nuclear Power to give far more consideration to what could occur if the company's assumptions are not realised. In particular, there is no guarantee that every one of the significant workforce involved in the construction of the power station will choose to live on the site the site earmarked for them by the company. There would be a very significant impact on the wider area if high numbers of the workforce decided to live in communities in Gwynedd.

“We therefore urge Horizon to prepare more detailed plans that will give appropriate consideration to the likelihood that a high number of the 9,000 staff will choose to live in Gwynedd. This in turn would be likely to have an impact on the Welsh language, Gwynedd’s communities and the local housing stock, and detailed work to look into this must be carried out as soon as possible.

“In addition, a number of construction staff would travel daily to the power station site and this together with the transportation of goods and materials, would be bound to have a significant impact on transport in the area during the construction period. We have also called on the company to give much more attention to the likely impact on the local labour market and the economy together with the inevitable impact on public services in the area.

"These are all matters that require much more consideration by the company. We have presented detailed comments to Horizon Nuclear Power, highlighting our desire that more specific consideration of the potential impact of Wylfa Newydd on Gwynedd should be incorporated into submission for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the UK Government in the coming months.

"As a Council, we support the opportunities that stem from the development, whilst recognising that there will be unavoidable negative side effects. It is therefore vitally important that every effort is made by all relevant bodies to respond proactively if we are to maximize the opportunities and reduce the side effects as much as possible. We hope that Horizon will give the concerns highlighted by the Council early and full consideration, and we would be very eager to discuss these issues as soon as possible so that we consider the best way forward."

Horizon Nuclear Power is expected to submit its application for a Development Consent Order for the Wylfa Newydd proposal to the UK Government in March 2018, with a decision to follow in the summer of 2019.