Pressure on UK government to pay £ 20million for Anglesey nuclear test facility
There has been pressure on government ministers to increase funding for a £ 40million thermohydraulic testing facility project on Anglesey.
Aimed at boosting the UK’s nuclear new build program and the development of small, modular and advanced reactors, it would create around 30 jobs and other benefits for the local economy.
With the Island MP pushing the Chancellor for answers in the Commons this week, Anglesey’s economic development chief also expressed disappointment that there was no reference to upcoming funding in the recent review British government spending.
Writing to MP Greg Hands, who heads the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Cllr Carwyn Jones called for clarity with the Welsh and UK governments who have already agreed in principle to split the prize £ 40million from the national thermal-hydraulic research and testing facility. label.
“I expressed my disappointment that the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review did not retain the £ 20million capital contribution previously allocated for the proposed new development on Anglesey,” said the adviser to Plaid Cymru, saying it “creates uncertainty” for the 2018-unveiled. development.
“Hosting a state-of-the-art R&D facility would complement the island’s long-standing support for nuclear development.
“The Energy Island program has more potential than ever to play an important role in future energy, employment and R&D activities in all sources of energy production.
“It’s very encouraging to see the momentum behind Rolls Royce and the potential future development of SMR, in fact, they would likely be a potential first customer for such a large national facility.
“There is a real danger if the funding and momentum is not maintained, we could see the tests of this development take the palate in Italy or the United States.
‘As it stands the Welsh government is also very supportive and has the matching funding in place, but we have to accept that this’ match’ may well be lost if the UK government is not prepared to support .
“I have urged the UK government to reaffirm its commitment and to confirm the allocation of funds for the development and delivery of the national thermal-hydraulic research and testing facility on Anglesey.”
When approached, a Welsh government spokesperson said: ‘We have been working with the UK government since 2017 on the proposal for a UK National Thermal-Hydraulic Testing Facility (THTF).
“We approved the principle of £ 20million at the time for the project, which will be funded by the UK government. Both governments are now working on updated business cases to secure inputs for the proposal. ”
The UK government’s BEIS department said it had nothing to add, but Ynys Mon MP Virginia Crosbie pressed ministers for more details in the Commons this week.
In Treasury Questions on Tuesday, the Conservative member said: “My constituency on the island of Ynys Mon has one of the weakest GVAs in the UK and is in desperate need of investment to reverse this inequality.
“Can the Chancellor confirm that the co-funding announced in the nuclear sector deal is in place for the proposed thermal-hydraulic test facility?” ”
In response, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘If my honorable friend forgives me for not stepping on the business secretary’s feet but what she will know is that we have allocated £ 120million. future nuclear development in the budget and expenditure review.
“I know this is an area that she is very interested in and has been campaigning on for a long time in her region and I am happy to support her in her conversations with the Business Secretary as he decides how to allocate this funding. ”
It had been proposed that such a facility be based under the name M-Sparc in Gaerwen, although other sites on the island are also under consideration.
Although it does not handle radioactive material itself, the planned facility would house scale test models to support the design of safe and efficient advanced nuclear systems.
Focusing on thermal-hydraulics – the movement of heat and fluids through the reactor system when converting nuclear energy into electricity – it could also have broader uses in non-nuclear thermal-hydraulic testing.
If it was based in Anglesey, it would only be one of three in the world, with the rest in the United States and Italy.
Speaking later, Ms Crosbie added: “I fully recognize the political support of all parties for this project and look forward to our regular meeting this week to collectively take stock.
“Developing a new business case shows that everyone is keen to take this facility above the line.
“I worked very hard to find a financing solution for the project, in particular by discussing with the ministers concerned.”