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Britain could face electricity shortfall after Hitachi pulls out of nuclear power deal, unions warn

BRITAIN faces a potential shortfall in electricity supplies of more than 20 per cent following the collapse of plans for a £16 billion new nuclear power station, unions warn.

Japanese firm Hitachi announced today that it had suspended construction of nuclear power station at Wylfa on the island of Anglesey in north Wales.

The project is the third failure in the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain and prompted a storm of criticism of the government for its lack of a viable energy policy for the future.

Hitachi pulled out because it was unable to reach agreement with the government on the funding of the project, as well as on “associated commercial arrangements.”

The company has also suspended construction of a new nuclear power station at Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

Two months ago construction of a nuclear power station at Moorside in Cumbria was abandoned by another Japanese firm, Toshiba.

Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive of Hitachi's nuclear business, Horizon Nuclear Power, said of the Wylfa decision: “I am very sorry to say that, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, we've not been able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned.”

The decision has been labelled by unions as a devastating blow for the local economy of north Wales.

And Sue Ferns, of the Prospect union, warned that its research showed that unless Britain gets moving on nuclear projects like Wylfa, the country will face a potential peak electricity gap of up to 21 per cent by 2030.

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “Hitachi’s announcement, coming so soon after the Moorside fiasco, raises the very real prospect of a UK energy crisis.

“As coal is taken out of the equation in the next few years and the existing nuclear fleet reaches the end of its natural life after 50 years, decisions are already long overdue for construction to be completed in time and not leave the country at risk of power cuts or reliant on imported electricity, much of it from unreliable regimes.

“While the government has had its head up its proverbial backside over Brexit, vital matters like guaranteeing the country’s future energy supply appear to have gone by the wayside.”

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said: “The government’s new nuclear strategy, adopted by the Conservatives and spearheaded by their Liberal Democrat coalition partners in 2013, is now lying in tatters.”

Unite national officer Peter McIntosh said: “The decision is a disaster for the UK economy and future energy needs of the country. It is the latest chapter in the sorry saga of recent UK energy policy.

“There are very real concerns over how we will keep the lights on for industry and consumers in the coming decades.”


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