Full power ahead for Wylfa land clearance scheme
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