Full power ahead for Wylfa land clear­ance scheme

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

PLANS to clear a site as big as 500 football pitches to make way for a £12bn power plant have been ap­proved by plan­ners, de­spite strong g op­po­si­tion from lo­cal cam­paign­ers.

Hori­zon Nu­clear Power had sub­mit­ted a bid to carry out the 15-month process – in­clud­ing the clear­ing of field bound­aries, de­mol­ish­ing build­ings and “re­lo­cat­ing species” – over a 740-acre area near the north An­gle­sey coast.

A meet­ing of the coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee unan­i­mously ap­proved the ap­pli­ca­tion, de­spite con­cerns that car­ry­ing out such large-scale work is pre­ma­ture un­til the fate of the nu­clear plant’s De­vel­op­ment Con­sent Or­der (DCO) is known.

The DCO, which could take at least 18 months to be de­cided upon by the Plan­ning In­spec­torate, will also in­clude a sub­stan­tial pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod.

But, ac­cord­ing to Hori­zon, al­low­ing the work to start now would shave around a year off the nu­clear plant’s con­struc­tion.

The firm also prom­ises that the site will be re­stored to its previous con­di­tion if the nu­clear plant fails to clear the plan­ning or fund­ing hur­dles.

The restora­tion would cost the com­pany more than £7m, and a bond for the costs will be agreed with the lo­cal author­ity be­fore plan­ning per­mis­sion is for­mally re­leased.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of north An­gle­sey com­mu­nity coun­cils and Peo­ple Against Wylfa B spoke against the bid, urg­ing mem­bers to force Hori­zon to wait un­til the DCO’s out­come is known.

Cllr Roger Dob­son, a mem­ber of Llan­badrig Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, said that, while he sup­ported the nu­clear plant in prin­ci­ple, the ap­pli­ca­tion was “pre­ma­ture and un­nec­es­sary”.

“Wylfa Newydd is big­ger than any­thing we have seen since the con­struc­tion of the A55,” he said.

He said the clear­ing of the area will in­volve 50 large items of diesel plant and 80 work­ers.

“With the ma­te­rial they re­move from walls, we could build a wall from the Wylfa site to this of­fice in Llangefni,” said Cllr Dob­son.

“740 acres of coast­line will be­come waste­land.

“Hori­zon wants you to take a very big risk. They want you to agree to de­stroy a beau­ti­ful land­scape that has evolved over mil­len­nia, along with build­ings and houses.

“They want you to do this be­cause it might shorten the time to build Wylfa by a year.

“There is a real risk that the project could be de­railed or delayed by the DCO out­come and it may not pro­ceed be­cause of fund­ing, espe­cially in the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate.

“De­stroy­ing our land­scape will have been for noth­ing and we all lose some­thing pre­cious for­ever.”

Pub­lic state­ments were also re­leased by Green­peace and the Na­tional Trust, ex­press­ing con­cern over the plans.

A spokesman for the Na­tional Trust said: “We be­lieve that the plans as they stand, along with the pre­ma­ture way the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion has been brought for­ward, re­in­forces our con­cerns about threats to habi­tat, wildlife and land­scape in the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment.

“We also feel it shows a lack of will­ing­ness on Hori­zon’s part to se­ri­ously ad­dress con­ser­va­tion con­cerns or put in place mea­sures to pro­tect this spe­cial area.”

Ifer Gwyn, of Hori­zon, sought to re­as­sure mem­bers that al­low­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion to pro­ceed would en­sure a speed­ier build of the nu­clear plant.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing lo­cal con­cerns, he re­mained adamant that “safety is al­ways para­mount”, with around 80 mainly lo­cal work­ers re­quired to carry out the site clear­ance work.

The meet­ing heard that a Sec­tion 106 agree­ment looks set to re­lease around £2m in com­mu­nity ben­e­fits for the sur­round­ing area, but Cllr Richard Grif­fith urged Hori­zon to do more.

“The lives of the res­i­dents of Tregele have al­ready been dis­rupted for sev­eral years and I feel there should be more com­pen­sa­tion for th­ese peo­ple,” he said.

“How­ever, I don’t op­pose this site clear­ance work and to de­lay it un­nec­es­sar­ily doesn’t make sense.”

Fel­low lo­cal mem­ber Cllr Aled Mor­ris Jones added: “We’ll have the big­gest build­ing site in west­ern Europe, but is this pre­ma­ture?

“I have con­cerns that may well be the case. Why aren’t off-line im­prove­ments to the A5025 road be­ing done now as well if the de­vel­op­ers want to save time?”

But a pro­posal made by Cllr Ken Hughes and sec­onded by Cllr John Grif­fith to ap­prove the of­fi­cers’ rec­om­men­da­tion to give the plan the go-ahead was unan­i­mously backed by mem­bers.

The re­port pre­sented to mem­bers says: ““It is stated that the eco­nomic ben­e­fits associated with the grant­ing of plan­ning per­mis­sion for the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment would as­sist in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the sig­nif­i­cant and long term con­tri­bu­tion to eco­nomic pros­per­ity in An­gle­sey and the wider north Wales re­gion as a re­sult of the op­er­a­tional phase be­ing re­alised ear­lier. The SPC pro­pos­als are also pre­dicted to safe­guard 80 lo­cal jobs.”

Re­think urged over ply­lons: Page 10 NA­TIONAL TRUST

We be­lieve the plans re­in­force our con­cerns about threat to habi­tat, wildlife and land­scape

How the pro­posed Wylfa Newydd nu­clear plant, on An­gle­sey, could look

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