Plans for Welsh nuclear power plant delayed by concerns over seabirds | Environment | The Guardian

Plans for a station on the Welsh island of Anglesey have been delayed by concerns over the plant’s impact on colonies of protected seabirds.

The proposed twin reactors at Wylfa were given the green light by the UK’s nuclear regulator in December, with backers hoping to win financial support from the government.

The Welsh plant would have a capacity of 3GW, similar to the 3.2GW of the nuclear power station being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Horizon Nuclear Power, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, told planning authorities it would submit its planning application for the Wylfa plant by the end of March, which it called a “major milestone”.

But the company postponed submitting the development consent order because it needs to thrash out the impact building the power station will have on colonies of sandwich, Arctic and common terns.

The species are protected under the EU birds and habitats directive.

Nearby Cemlyn nature reserve is home to thousands of sandwich terns, which account for about fifth of the birds’ UK population and is the biggest on the country’s west coast.

Wildlife groups are concerned about the effect of noise and light from the power station’s construction, as well as a reduction in food for the birds to forage on. Land clearance for the vast site is also expected to displace potential predators, such as rats and foxes.

Chris Wynne, a senior reserve officer at North Wales Wildlife Trust, said: “We are looking at a range of ecological impacts at one of the most significant tern colonies in the UK.”

Horizon is talking with Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh equivalent of the Environment Agency, and has committed to avoiding fracturing rock from a local outcrop during the breeding season of the terns, which are notoriously fickle breeders.

The company hopes to resolve the issues with the Welsh agency and submit the development consent order (DCO) before the end of June.

The delay is expected to be a bump in the road rather than major headache for Horizon, which believes Wylfa could be generating electricity by the mid-2020s.

 

 

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