Green MP Caroline Lucas has called for an “urgent debate” in parliament to clarify whether the government is offering a package of financial support for Hitachi-backed plans to build a new nuclear plant on the Isle of Anglesey.
According to reports in the Japanese press, the UK government has agreed to offer financial guarantees for the project following a meeting last week between prime minister Theresa May and Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of Hitachi.
Hitachi has owned Horizon, the company which Is developing the 2.9GW plant at Wylfa, since 2012.
The Public Accounts Committee urged the government last year to underwrite new nuclear plants with financial guarantees to reduce the cost of raising private finance for such projects.
But the government’s response to the reports has been tight-lipped.
A spokesman for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department, said: “Nuclear power remains a crucial part of the UK’s energy future but we have always been clear that this must be delivered at the right price for consumers and taxpayers.
“This principle runs through all our engagement with any new-build developers. These discussions are commercially sensitive and we have no further details at this time.”
Responding to the reports, Lucas tweeted: “This is absolutely outrageous. The government is planning to plough billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into failing nuclear without any transparency or scrutiny. I’m calling for an urgent debate on this in parliament.”
She was backed up by Doug Parr, policy director of Greenpeace.
He said: “Taxpayers money is being put on the table and they have been talking about this for a long time but the Japanese public is better informed than the British public. It’s a shocking state of affairs, given that we are taking the risk.”-
But the indications of movement by the government on financing was welcomed by Tim Yeo, chair of New Nuclear Watch Europe.
“The Japanese have said they are not going to throw in any more money and it’s become clear that without some financial contribution this would not proceed.”
He said it was “good news” for the nuclear industry and would bolster confidence in the Moorside plant, which was taken over by South Korean utility Kepco last year.
A Horizon spokesman, said: “As has been communicated previously, close discussions between Horizon and the UK government on the financing plans for Wylfa Newydd have been ongoing for some time. Given the size of the investment involved and the nature of the project, these discussions are complex and detailed. While we understand the strong interest in progress, we will not be commenting until they have reached a conclusion.”