Japanese to Build [Pounds Sterling]700m UK Nuclear Power Plants

Article excerpt

Byline: James Chapman Political Editor

UP TO six new nuclear power reactors will power 14million homes for 60 years following a massive deal announced yesterday.

In the most significant boost yet for Government plans for a new network of atomic power stations, Japanese engineering giant Hitachi took on a project to construct plants in Wales and Gloucestershire.

The [pounds sterling]700million deal will create 12,000 jobs for construction workers, engineers and other skilled employees, and spark a broader multi-billion-pound investment in the nuclear industry. Two British firms, power systems provider Rolls-Royce and engineering services group Babcock International, will work with Hitachi on the project.

Britain currently has ten nuclear power stations, generating a total of ten gigawatts of electricity, around 19 per cent of Britain's electricity needs.

By 2023, all but one - Sizewell B in Suffolk - will have become obsolete.

This could trigger an energy crisis, as one third of Britain's oldfashioned coal-fired and oil-fired power stations will effectively be outlawed by environmental legislation at the same time.

The future of the nuclear industry had been thrown into doubt, however, by the decision of Germany's E.ON and RWE to pull out of developments in the UK.

Now Hitachi is buying Horizon Nuclear Power - which has the rights to build reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales, and Oldbury in Gloucestershire - from the German firms.

Ministers and unions hailed the deal, but green campaigners described it as a 'risky and expensive gamble.' David Cameron said the announcement was a 'decadeslong, multi-billion-pound vote of confidence' in the UK.

The Prime Minister added: 'It will support up to 12,000 jobs during construction and thousands more permanent highly skilled roles once the new power plants are operational, as well as stimulating exciting new industrial investments in the UK's nuclear supply chain.' Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said: 'Hitachi bring with them decades of expertise, and are responsible for building some of the most advanced nuclear reactors on time and on budget, so I welcome their commitment to helping build a low-carbon secure energy future for the UK. I particularly welcome Hitachi's firm commitment to involve the UK supply chain and local workforce. …