Wylfa bid halted over fears for environment
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)