Philip Hammond has expressed hope that Hitachi might still press ahead with its plans to build a new nuclear plant in north Wales.
The Japanese multi-national announced just over a week ago that it has suspended its UK nuclear development programme, which means that work has been halted on its projects at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire
Hitachi’s move, combined with Toshiba’s decision in November to scrap its plans for a three-reactor plant at Moorside, means that a total of 9.2GW of planned nuclear generation has been cancelled or suspended over the last three months.
The chancellor of the exchequer, responding to a question by backbench Labour MP Ian Lucas at Treasury ministers question time on Tuesday (29 January), said: “Obviously, we are disappointed by Hitachi’s decision to suspend work on the Wylfa project, but we have not given up hope.
“It retains the site and we hope that the work we are doing on a possible alternative financing model may yet allow the project to go ahead.”
Lucas told Hammond that the suspension of the nuclear project has taken £16 billion to £20 billion worth of private sector investment out of north Wales.
The chancellor’s statement about an “alternative finance model” refers to the government’s work on exploring how the regulated asset base model, under which investors in projects can receive returns while they are being built, can be applied to the nuclear sector.