The Wylfa Ni group (working title) is looking for support especially from those living in the area around the Wylfa site. The decision by Hitachi to terminate their interest in the development of nuclear power at Wylfa creates an opportunity to further the interests of the environment in the area.
The group feels that since the site is no longer required by Hitachi, after causing such upheaval, inconvenience and false hopes for jobs they could give back the land for the community and the Island to decide how they now want to move forward.
The group would like to see the land re-possessed for the nation a site rich in history, visual beauty and wildlife led an ad hoc group to hold a series of on-line meetings recently to establish a case for transference of the land owned by Hitachi back into local ownership. The group – with a working title of WYLFA NI – believes there is widespread support for such an approach and this introductory paper is an attempt to reach out to a wider grouping of interested parties.
In 2012, Hitachi acquired Horizon Nuclear Power including the 409 hectares Wylfa B site which lies on the Heritage Coast of northern Ynys Môn. This, despite the fact that, in 2011 the Government’s National Policy Statement for Energy Infrastructure identified the potential for adverse effects on sites of international significance if Wylfa B was developed. In the words of the Government’s own appraisal, the sites could “clearly suffer with the development”.
These sites included the internationally important Cemlyn Bay Special Area of Conservation [SAC] and the Ynys Feurig, Skerries and Cemlyn Special Protection Areas [SPAs]. In addition, Nationally Designated Sites of ecological importance – three sites of Special Scientific Interest [SSSI] lay within 5kms of the proposed site including one within the site itself.
In the intervening years, Horizon have engaged in preparations for the proposed development – some 30 houses have been demolished, farms bought, land and architectural sites defiled and coastline disturbed by exploration – all in the belief that a new nuclear plant would go ahead.
The final decision to abandon the £20bn proposal was taken by Hitachi in mid-September and the company no longer has any strategic interest in the land.
The desire to re-possess for the nation a site rich in history, visual beauty and wildlife led an ad hoc group to hold a series of on-line meetings recently to establish a case for transference of the land owned by Hitachi back into local ownership.
The group – with a working title of WYLFA NI – believes there is widespread support for such an approach and this introductory paper is an attempt to reach out to a wider grouping of interested parties.
A Development Consent Order [DCO] has not been given approval for new nuclear build on the site and any decision in this regard has been postponed yet again by the Secretary of State at BEIS in London – this time until the end of 2020. Greenpeace have indicated their readiness to challenge any decision in favour of approving the DCO on the basis that the National Policy Statement [NPS] on energy is outdated.
WYLFA NI is of the view that, with previous attention in the potential of Wylfa having failed to make progress – witness RWE, E-ON, ROSATOM and, latterly, HITACHI all abandoning their involvement, there is little likelihood of any further interest emerging successfully. A transfer of the land to local interests can ensure :
- Accountability for the land use on this Heritage Coast vested with the people of Ynys Môn
- The best interests of tackling the Climate Emergency declared by Ynys Môn council can be furthered
- An imaginative response to the opportunities and employment needs of the island can be developed
Given an agreement with Hitachi is forthcoming, WYLFA NI have considered some possible options for the site but, with input from a ‘people’s assembly’ and the use of social media, there is an opportunity to capture a wealth of ideas that have inevitably not been considered to date. This sense of ‘ownership’ for the land usage and empowerment of the local community is important.
Whatever is ‘agreed’ on the use of the land, any proposal(s) will need to be:
- Sustainable and
- Environmentally responsible
Further criteria to be considered within an option appraisal, include :
- linguistic and cultural impact
- educational value
- social benefit
- ‘marketing’ opportunity
- financial implications
WYLFA NI have had an early brainstorm and several ideas have emerged, not in any order of priority and clearly not mutually exclusive.
- nature conservation. In the context of a nature reserve, improvement of existing wildlife habitats with areas of re-wilding
- ‘serious’ solar or wind energy to create income. Community-led; possible cooperation with Hitachi’s renewable energy division as in the Scilly Isles
- visitor centre in relation to a restored Castell gardens – an enhancement of the Coastal Path experience in the area
- re-visioning of agriculture and land use – in relation to climate change
- sport’s facility – building on the back of the island’s success in attracting the Island Games
- interpretation of the site’s rich archaeology – recent investigations yielded knowledge that substantially added to understanding of the island’s Neolithic, Iron age, Roman and mediaeval history
- the extraordinary diversity of the island’s geology has led to Ynys Môn being designated as an International Geoparc and one of UNESCO’s Global Network of Geoparcs
- the compatibility of the latter two as a major focus for interpretation
Hitachi’s decision to withdraw from the Wylfa development has had a negative impact on the island and the confidence of the local community, which already suffers from the lowest GVA in the UK. As with any other major international corporation, public relations is an important part of their strategy and previous experience suggests that the kind of ambition outlined by WYLFA NI will have significant positive attributes for all parties. This can only be of benefit to a community such as ours looking for a favourable outcome.
Engagement with the company explaining the motivation behind our approach is therefore an important first step. Concluding – an early approach has been made to Hitachi HQ in Tokyo outlining the objectives of WYLFA NI and seeking an accommodation with our ambition.