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Wylfa: Talks over nuclear plant delay’s impact on jobs

Media captionThe Wylfa news is a ‘shame’ for Coleg Menai engineers

Business and political leaders will meet to discuss ways they can help workers affected by the suspension of work on a new nuclear power station.

Japanese firm Hitachi’s decision to halt its Wylfa Newydd project on Anglesey was described as a “tremendous blow” to the north Wales economy.

About 9,000 workers had been expected to build the £13bn plant.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates will be at an emergency meeting of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board later.

Mr Skates said he wanted to discuss what job opportunities there were for people in similar fields in and around Anglesey.

Energy is not currently devolved to the Welsh Government and Mr Skates said he was “deeply concerned” and wanted the UK government to “step up to the plate” to give assurances about the project and the wider implications for the regional economy.

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Horizon Nuclear

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Wylfa Newydd was due to be completed by mid-2020

The North Wales Economic Ambition Board is made up of private and public organisations, colleges, universities and business leaders from across north Wales, working with the Welsh Government to encourage business investment.

Its vice chairman, Gwynedd council leader Dyfrig Siencyn, said Wylfa was worth “billions” to the local economy.

“It’s quite difficult to imagine the sums we’re talking about, so the impacts are extremely severe,” he added.

Anglesey’s Plaid Cymru Welsh assembly member Rhun ap Iorwerth said the decision was worrying for the staff and apprentices already employed on the project.

“But I’m thinking also about those who’ve pinned their hopes on future employment there,” he said.

“Now we have to look at ways of moving forward.”

Further education college Coleg Menai has 700 engineering students, many hoping to take advantage of opportunities from Wylfa and its supply chain.

The college confirmed its 30 Horizon apprentices would be funded to finish their three-year courses and still be offered work experience.

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Getty Images

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The new nuclear power station is in line to be built close to the decommissioned Wylfa plant

Hitachi announced the suspension of work at the plant on Thursday because of rising costs, although its subsidiary Horizon Nuclear insisted work could restart when funding solutions were agreed.

The Japanese firm had been in talks with the UK government since June about funding for the project.

The government said it had failed to agree terms with Hitachi.

UK Business Secretary Greg Clark has told MPs ministers were willing to provide a “significant and generous package” of support to Hitachi to continue work at Wylfa.

He said that the UK government was willing to take a one-third equity stake in the project and was ready to provide all of the required debt financing to see the project completed.

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