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

Bangor Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

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

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