“North Wales Deserves Better – A response”

Re. Written Statement – Up-date on the Nuclear Sector in Wales – Ken Skates 23/10/2020

It is difficult to comprehend why the Welsh Government is clinging to the hopes that a nuclear revival will solve regeneration issues in North Wales. There is now clear evidence that nuclear power is : yesterday’s technology, costs the earth, leaves a legacy of highly radioactive waste and is no answer to climate change … It is too little too late.

1. Wylfa Newydd – The Written Statement claims Wylfa Newydd could significantly contribute towards the 2050 zero CO2 emissions target. BUT

· Climate change is now and is the most important issue facing us today. We need to invest in low carbon renewable technologies NOW – we cannot afford to wait

· The latest research claims we have less than 12 years to act on climate change before it becomes seriously problematic. Currently Wales generates no energy from nuclear and the most optimistic scenario for new nuclear generation at Wylfa Newydd is now looking like 2030 at the earliest.

· If Wylfa Newydd goes ahead it will create a massive extra legacy of radioactive waste that future generations will have to manage long after the stations have been shut-down .

· Wylfa Newydd is a costly distraction that is neither low carbon, renewable or needed and requires enormous government subsidies. The estimated cost of the new build when Hitachi was around was running between 15 and 20billion.

The Zero Carbon Britain Project demonstrates how we can rapidly reduce UK Greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030 using only currently available technology. It outlines how we can provide a reliable energy supply with 100% renewable energy sources and flexible carbon neutral back up – without fossil fuels, nuclear power, or gambling on future technology. In addition it can deliver a modern lifestyle, create employment, improve our wellbeing, and ensure a safe and sustainable future for future generations http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org

2. Trawsfynydd a new development company called Cwmni Egino – The Written Statement claims this will help exploit the huge economic benefits of small modular reactors (SMR’s) and associated technologies. BUT

· It’s the same old technology. The basic idea dates back to the 1940s, when the US. Air Force, Army, and Navy each initiated R&D on various types of small reactors. They still have the same problems facing large reactors eg soaring costs, safety, and radioactive waste.

· Are SMR’s safer and more secure than conventional nuclear power stations? –Well that depends on how many modules are built on the same site with the added complications and costs of a variety of new forms of nuclear waste on a number of different sites.

· The SMR ‘dream’ is to gain sufficient orders to set up production lines which then create their own problems; such as inspecting production lines, health and safety, procedures for recalls etc .But to date, worldwide there are insufficient orders to proceed with a factory.

· Cheaper does not necessarily mean cost-effective – In Dec 2017 The Atkins Consultancy report for BEIS found that power from SMRs would cost nearly one-third more than conventional nuclear stations because of reduced economies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology

· It’s the last ditch stand of a dying industry. You need more SMR’s to produce the same amount of energy so that raises issues of safety, quality, licencing and security

· Efficiency and most renewable technologies are already cheaper than new large reactors. The time it will take to certify SMRs will do little or nothing to help with the global warming problem and will actually complicate current efforts underway.

3. Existing expertise and skills in North Wales,

Skills and expertise in the nuclear field exist and there is plenty of scope for them to be fully utilised in the major challenges faced with decommissioning on both the Trawsfynydd and Wylfa nuclear sites. In addition there is the continuing problem of radioactive legacy waste and the long-term management problems that exist for future generations.

Wales provides substantial opportunities to ‘ lead the way ‘ in developing existing, emerging and new renewable energy projects based on truly sustainable principles .

The Institute of Welsh Affairs Report “ The Economic Costs and Benefits of Renewable En-ergy Transition in Wales “ shows that the development of an energy system that can enable Wales to become 100% self-sufficient in renewable electricity by 2035, requires around £25bn of investment in renewable electricity generation, and £5bn in domestic energy effi-ciency interventions. This analysis also shows that some 40% of renewable electricity spending could potentially be captured by Wales, along with 70% of domestic energy effi-ciency spending. In addition these investments could support some 20,150 jobs annually across Wales during the investment period . AND there is no need for nuclear power https://www.iwa.wales/click/2018/11/the-time-is-now-tick-tock-its-ticking-away/


Trawsfynydd is the only inland nuclear power plant in the UK, it was shut down in 1991 after 26 years of operation. However, in June 2018 the UK Government announced a £40m facility to support the design of Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANT’s) would be developed on the site

Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANT’s) encompasses Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s) – the term used to describe a wide range of developing nuclear reactor technologies that share a number of common attributes ;

* they are smaller (under 300 Mw) producing about a tenth of the power of a conventional nuclear station

* designed so that much of the plant can be made in a factory and transported to the site.

SMR’s generally fall into two categories

a) Generation III water-cooled SMR’s – similar to existing nuclear power station reactors but on a smaller scale, and b) Generation IV advanced modular reactors, which use other cooling systems or fuels . They range in scale between micro, small and medium scale reactors and which span technology types from conventional water-cooled reactors, to those using novel fuels and coolants.


The Westinghouse SMR is a >225 MWe integral pressurized water reactor

The Government is running a two-stage Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Programme, managed by Innovate UK where they have invited companies such as Rolls Royce to submit designs / ideas

Stage 1 – Launched in March 2016, offering grants of up to £4 million to support around 8 initiatives to undertake feasibility studies.

Stage 2 – Up to £40 million to support 3-4 vendors to accelerate their designs eg. at Trawsfynydd


It’s the same old technology – The basic idea actually dates to the 1940s, when the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy each initiated R&D on various types of small reactors. Some proponents see them as the solution to the problems facing large

reactors, particularly soaring costs, safety, and radioactive waste. Unfortunately, small-scale reactors can’t solve these problems, and would likely exacerbate them. As the history makes clear, small nuclear reactors would be neither as cheap nor as easy to build and operate as their modern proponents claim.

(IEER/PSR presentation  http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/small-modular-reactors2010.pdf 


It’s the last ditch stand of a dying industry – nuclear power proponents are pinning their hopes on SMR’s without thinking about the new problems they will create such as inspecting production lines , procedures for recalls, or the complications and costs of a variety of new forms of nuclear waste on a number of different sites.

Safety concerns – You need more SMR’s to produce the same amount of energy as conventional stations so that raises issues of safety, quality, licencing and of course security

Cheaper does not necessarily mean cost-effective – In Dec 2017 The Atkins Consultancy report for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said there was “a great deal of uncertainty with regards to the economics of SMR’s. The Report found that power from SMRs would cost nearly one-third more than conventional nuclear stations because of reduced economies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology.” http://www.atkinsglobal.com/en-GB/angles/all-angles/our-nuclear-future

Efficiency and most renewable technologies are already cheaper than new large reactors. The time it will take to certify SMRs will do little or nothing to help with the global warming problem and will actually complicate current efforts underway.


The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is unique to Wales and demands that we think about the long-term impact of decisions, it also offers a huge opportunity to make long-lasting, positive changes for current and future generations and yet the Welsh Government is condoning an energy policy at variance with the Act.

What is the future for Wales are we to be engulfed by nuclear power stations? – At present that looks possible;

* In 2010 the UK Government categorically stated it would not subsidise nuclear developments.

* 19th July 2011 the UK Government approved a National Policy Statement on Nuclear Generation. This listed 8 sites in England and Wales suitable for new nuclear reactors. Developers are currently planning 13 new reactors at 6 of the sites – the other nomi-nated sites are Heysham and Hartlepool.

* March 2017 concrete pouring started on the first structures at Hinkley Point : an 8km network of tunnels to carry piping and cables around the site; mud from the site is sched-uled for dumping in Cardiff Grounds from July 2018 .

* June 4th 2018 Greg Clarke announces “Wylfa Newydd could cost more than £15 billion to build and be part-funded by taxpayers to the tune of £5 billion” thus overturning the 2010 pledge not to subsidize

Four reactor designs are being considered for UK new-build: the Areva/ Frama-tome EPR (originally the European Pressurised Reactor), Westinghouse’s AP1000, Hitachi-GE’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), and the Chinese Hualong HPR1000. South Korean group Kepco is also preparing a bid to deploy its APR1400 in the UK


Hinkley Point – Scheduled for completion by 2025

Hinkley Point in Somerset is 14 miles from Barry and 19 from Cardiff. After years of negotiations the UK government has finally managed to convince EDF (a French utility company) to invest, but only after it guaranteed the company a set price for the electricity the plant produces, even if its higher than the open market price at the time. Even then, EDF only committed once it had secured Chinese backing. As the formerly pro-nuclear The Economist put it in 2016 in an analysis entitled “ Hinkley Pointless – Britain should cancel its nuclear white elephant and spend the billions on making renewables work” .

Wylfa Newydd (Ynys Mon) – Scheduled for completion 2024

Horizon Nuclear Power, owned by Hitachi plans to build two 1.3GWe ABWR’s at Wylfa and at least two at Oldbury (Gloucestershire). Hitachi is still trying to find funding partners to share the costs and is currently sounding out the Development Bank of Japan and other Japanese power companies ; a problem as many are struggling with the heavy financial fallout from the 2011 meltdown at Fukushima. Tepco for example has to raise huge amounts of money to decommission the Fukushima Dai-ichi station and compensate victims.

Moorside (Cumbria) – scheduled for completion 2024

Cumbria already has the biggest store of plutonium anywhere in the world and is now set for a further 3 new reactors. The original plan by NuGeneration, ( the British subsidiary of Toshiba-owned Westinghouse Electric Company) , had the station coming online from 2024.

Why is the UK Government so determined to push ahead with nuclear and why is the Welsh Government not challenging this energy programme when we have more than enough green renewable options here. We need to ask questions NOW


1. Write to your MP pointing out why a nuclear energy programme is unnecessary, is no solution to climate change and will cost the earth and the environment.

2. Write to your AM and ask them to justify why the Welsh Government is supporting the UK Government nuclear programme in light of the 2015 Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales)

Points to raise

> Nuclear power is a financial nightmare not only will it cost the taxpayer billions the public will also have to run the risk of lengthy and costly over-runs; the hallmark of nuclear power construction worldwide

> Nuclear is no solution to climate change – The UK has a binding target of a cut in CO2 gases by 34% by 2020 but even at the most optimistic nuclear building rate ie. 10 new reactors by 2025, the UK’s carbon emissions would be cut by just 4%. And where do they think the uranium comes from ?

> Nuclear locks us into the same old inflexible, inefficient and outdated energy system, it also undermines the solutions that can deliver energy and cut our carbon footprint quicker and cheaper.

> Nuclear waste – we already have a 60 year legacy of waste we don’t know what to do with. New nuclear plants will increase the amount of atomic radioactivity by at least three times.

> Nuclear increases our chances of major radioactive contamination from accidents, routine releases and terrorism.

> Nuclear has a history of very serious accidents – Kyshtym 1957 (Soviet Union) level 6 on the INES(International Nuclear Events Scale) Level 7 being the worst possible. Windscale Fire (1957 Cumbria) ) INES level 5, Three Mile Island (USA 1979 ) level 5, Chernobyl (Ukraine 1986) level 7 and Fukishima (Japan 2011) level 7.


On the 25th of January 2018 the Welsh Government issued a Consultation Document on the “Geological disposal of radioactive waste – Working with potential host communities” (Responses by 20 April 2018)

The document seeks views on the arrangements for engaging with communities in Wales considering hosting a Geological Disposal Facility(GDF) or waste dump. Questions include:

  • what might constitute a community + how they might be identified (e.g. County Council, Community Council, landowner, a community group or a local group of businesses?)

  • how communities should be represented and how to involve people in the wider community

  • the right of withdrawal and the test of public support

  • the financial implications.

                               Diagram : Radioactive Waste Management Ltd – Siting and Engagement Implementation Dec 2017