ALARM AT COUNTY’S £9.5M BILL
Island spends more than other N.Wales counties combined on consultants’ fees... but says most of it is due to Wylfa Newydd
ANGLESEY Council spent £9.5m on consultants’ fees over a three-year period - more than the other seven counties in North and mid Wales combined.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service shows the eight councils spent at least £18,133,621 on fees for external between 2015 and 2018.
Anglesey council’s £9.5m spend has been largely blamed on substantial projects such as Wylfa Newydd - with the outlay set to be repaid by the developers.
The total covers anyone taken in from an outside body to advise the authorities on various matters, but the figure has been branded as “concerning” during a time when all local authorities are cutting their cloth to meet dwindling block grants from central government.
A council spokesman said: “It’s important to highlight that the definition of ‘consultancy’ is very vague and the interpretation of what is considered as consultancy can vary significantly between authorities.
“There are a number of reasons for the use of consultants and since April ‘17 we’ve monitored the expenditure on consultants and agency staff in more detail and report to the Executive quarterly, all of which is available publicly.
“It is important to note that the expenditure on some consultancy has been funded externally from grants or contributions. We’ve also had to spend a substantial amount due to the Wylfa Newydd and National Grid projects, all of which will be reimbursed through an agreement with the developers.”
The island’s MP, however, described the figures as “concerning” at a time when islanders are facing rising council tax bills.
Albert Owen said: “The county council is operating under strict financial constraints, therefore even more concerning that it is paying out massive sums to consultants and not undertaking work in-house, and it seems it is paying out more than all the other councils in North Wales put together.”
Gwynedd Council spent £66,944 between 2016 and 2017 and £51,426 between 2017/18. Figures were not available for 2015/16.
The next biggest spenders behind Anglesey were Powys and Wrexham. Powys outlaid £3.3m between 2015/16 and 2017/18, while Wrexham spent more than £3m during the same period.
HORIZON Nuclear Power said Wylfa Newydd will be “cheaper” than previous nuclear power stations after announcing it has appointed US firm Bechtel as Project Management Contractor (PMC).
Horizon has also signed further contracts with Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe and JGC New Energy UK Limited ( JGC) to continue to provide support during the project’s development stage.
Bechtel, who will have nearly 200 employees embedded within Horizon, will oversee the project management of the power station, together with Horizon.
It had been reported in the Japanese press that the company had withdrawn from the construction of the plant.
But a Horizon spokesman said: “The company will sit at the heart of the Wylfa Newydd project organisation, leading the contractual and commercial interface with suppliers on behalf of Horizon.”
Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe will deliver the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactors for the power station as well as being “architect engineer”.
JGC will continue to provide a range of specialist services around the ‘Balance of Plant’, the supporting components and systems needed to deliver the energy beyond the generating unit itself.
Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power, said: “These world-leading companies bring a wealth of nuclear, engineering and construction expertise to complement our growing organisation.
“They will help us replicate the cost and schedule successes of the previous four ABWR reactors. The UK still needs reliable nuclear power to help transform our energy mix. “We are gearing up to deliver that. “Our first power station will be cheaper than what has gone before.
“After that, with smart financing, supply chain learnings and no need for first time overheads, future project costs will fall further still.”
Barbara Rusinko, President, Nuclear, Security and Environmental at Bechtel, said “We’ve been part of the Horizon family for several years.
“It’s been a pleasure to work alongside the company as it has evolved through its development phase.
“We look forward to continuing to bring our expertise to the construction of the UK’s next new nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd in our new role.”
They said the embedding of Bechtel will mirror the kind of client/contractor relationship that has been successful in delivering the previous four ABWR nuclear reactors on time and on budget.
Anglesey council said consultancy fees connected with the Wylfa Newydd and National Grid projects will be reimbursed by developers
The proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant on Anglesey