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Wylfa nuclear project – a contentious issue in Wales

Wales’ controversial nuclear history and what comes next as D-Day approaches for Wylfa    One of Wales’ most contentious projects is facing a possible D-Day next month but opinion remains divided about nuclear power on the isle of Anglesey, Wales Online31 AUG 2020 

….since its announcement it has been met with a mixture of hope, optimism, and concern from campaigners and local politicians.

It has also been dogged by delays and uncertainty in the decade since it was confirmed Wylfa would get a new nuclear plant…….  as we approach possible clarity on a long-proposed and controversial project, what do those closest to the project think?

People Against Wylfa B (or Pawb, meaning ‘everyone’ in Welsh) was set up in the late 1980s and opposes the establishment of a new nuclear plant in north Wales.

One of its leading members, Robat Idris, explained that the history of nuclear power’s prominence in the Anglesey region goes back more than 60 years.

“The development of the UK nuclear programme was part of the Cold War strategy of the government at the time,” he said.

“The Thatcher government wanted to start a programme of building nuclear reactors, which were then shelved. At the time there was strong opposition across the political parties, except the Tories, to nuclear in Wales.”………

the concerns shared by Pawb go deeper than local politics and economics. The dangers associated with nuclear power are well-documented.

Despite being more than 2,000 miles away, farms over 53,000 hectares in north Wales felt the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, with many restrictions placed on farms due to radioactive particles in the soil and vegetation.

This threatened livelihoods across Wales for decades. Some restrictions in areas like Snowdonia were only lifted as recently as 2012.

Often smaller incidents at nuclear stations are not reported on a national scale or are discovered belatedly. At the Sellafield nuclear site, off the coast of Cumbria, between 1950 and 2000 there were 21 incidents or accidents involving off-site radiological releases that warranted a rating on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

“Historical effects like Chernobyl and Fukushima show that if things go wrong they go wrong dramatically,” Mr Idris said.

“With capitalist extractive models you take what you want and leave the rest. Even though nothing has been built yet there has already been changes to the topography of the area – flattening of hills and demolishing of houses and purchasing of land from farmers.”…….

“We have concerns about the idea that nuclear energy is low-carbon. But it is only low-carbon in the actual production – not in the building and construction, mining of uranium, or other elements,” Mr Idris said.

“There is also an unknown element to the decommissioning process – you are talking about centuries after production stops before a site is safe.”……………………………….

Not all are convinced that Wylfa is the magic pill that will transform Anglesey’s fortunes ……….

we’ve had this salvation of nuclear in the 60s and 70s, and Anglesey is still one of the poorest areas.

“Renewables are coming in more – falling costs, improvements in storage technology. The technology is there and just needs to be purchased.

“It comes back to a lack of a plan B – why haven’t other credible scenarios been presented?”……..

With the impending decision from the UK Government it appears increasingly likely that clarity is coming either way.

If permission is granted then the final hurdle will be arranging funding between the UK Government and the company – something which has proven elusive thus far………

September 1, 2020 - Posted by | politics, UK

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