Wylfa bid halted over fears for en­vi­ron­ment

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

ABID to start clear­ance work for Wylfa Newydd nu­clear power station has been halted by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment over fears about the ef­fect on wildlife at a na­ture re­serve.

In Septem­ber, Anglesey Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee unan­i­mously ap­proved an ap­pli­ca­tion by the de­vel­op­ers of Wylfa Newydd to start the 15-month project, which in­cludes clear­ing field bound­aries, de­mol­ish­ing build­ings and “re­lo­cat­ing species” over a 740acre area near the north Anglesey gle­sey coast.

But a num­ber of groups, s, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Trust, , RSPB Cymru and the North Wales Wildlife Trust, said they had “sig­nif­i­cant” con­cerns about the im­pact the work would have on a num­ber r of listed and at-risk species, s, in­clud­ing wa­ter voles, ot­ters, ers, great crested newts, terns and Euro­pean eels.

They breed at the Cem­lyn Na­ture Re­serve, which is in an area of out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty.

De­vel­op­ers Hori­zon had pledged to cre­ate eco­log­i­cal ar­eas and wet­land hab- itats to off­set the im­pact of their work. But the Welsh Gov­ern­ment de­cided to re­view the plans as coun­cil plan­ners only con­sid­ered the site clear­ance works with­out also tak­ing into ac­count the wider im­pli­ca­tions of the pro­posed nu­clear plant on the nearby re­serve and lo­cal wildlife. As a re­sult of the call-in, the fate of the plans will now be de­ter­mined by Welsh min­is­ters – a process which could take sev­eral months. Hori­zon had wanted the work to start ear­lier as it would shave around a year off con­struc­tion of the nu­clear plant, which is ex­pected to open in the mid2020s 2020s. T The Welsh Gov­ern­ment said its de­ci­sion to re­view the plans do does not im­ply any view from th the Welsh min­is­ters about the m mer­its of the ap­pli­ca­tion. A spokesman for Hori­zon Nu Nu­clear Power said it was “dis­app ap­pointed” that the ap­pli­ca­tion had b been called in. “We dis­agree with the rea­son­ing and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the call-in and are now con­sid­er­ing our op­tions on how we re­spond to the de­ci­sion. “We are also look­ing closely at how the de­ci­sion im­pacts the project and how these im­pacts can be mit­i­gated.”

Ac­cord­ing to a let­ter sent to Anglesey Coun­cil from the De­part­ment for En­ergy, Plan­ning and Ru­ral Af­fairs, de­ci­sion­mak­ers in Cardiff Bay had reser­va­tions over as­pects of the de­ci­sion.

The let­ter, dated Thurs­day (De­cem­ber 13), noted: “There are con­cerns the ap­pli­ca­tion, as pre­sented and con­sid­ered by the Lo­cal Plan­ning Au­thor­ity, does not re­flect the Habi­tats Di­rec­tive dated 1992, as it di­vorces the site prepa­ra­tion el­e­ments of the project from the later con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tional phases of the project.

“The ap­proach as­sumes the de­sign and work pro­gramme for the over­all scheme per­mit­ted by other au­thor­i­ties (UK Gov­ern­ment and NRW) for the De­vel­op­ment Con­sent Or­der (DCO) and the marine li­cence will be sat­is­fac­tory.

“How­ever, if there are harm­ful en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects from the project over­all, plan­ning au­thor­i­ties need to be sat­is­fied that any rea­son­able al­ter­na­tive sites which would re­sult in less harm, no harm or gain, have been fully con­sid- ered,” it added.

The coun­cil’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment port­fo­lio leader Car­wyn Jones said: “We have worked with Hori­zon, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales and other stake­holder to en­sure that mat­ters that need care­ful ex­am­i­na­tion were given the nec­es­sary at­ten­tion. It’s im­por­tant to note that any fur­ther steps are now a mat­ter for Hori­zon as the de­vel­op­ers.

“The hope is that the call-in will not have an ad­verse ef­fect on the Wylfa Newydd de­vel­op­ment as this is key as a vi­tal cat­a­lyst to de­velop the econ­omy of the is­land and north Wales.”

Car­wyn Jones (left) hopes the call-in of plans for clear­ance work will not ad­versely af­fect Wylfa Newydd (artist’s im­pres­sion above)

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