On a visit to a nuclear power station in America back in April, Simon Hart, the Secretary of State for Wales, was astonished at the "staggering scale" of building a reactor in Atlanta, in the state of Georgia.

But he told a Welsh Affairs Committee meeting earlier this week that Wylfa is "probably near the top" of potential new reactor sites.

In November 2021, the UK government announced that the UK would invest £210 million in small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

READ MORE: Welsh Government firm says Trawsfynydd reactor construction could start in 2027

Match funding would come from, they said, private investors. The Trawsfynydd site in Gwynedd, and Wylfa on Ynys Môn, are potential locations.

Hart said he had spent time with "developers" in Atlanta (on April 7).

According to the American press, the cost of building two nuclear reactors in Atlanta has gone through the roof. According to one news agency, the original cost has since doubled.

Simon Baynes, the MP for Clwyd South, asked Hart what "unexpected information" had Hart gleaned in Atlanta.

Hart seemed surprised at the "size of the development" there he explained, which he described as "breathtaking", adding that he had only seen one type of reactor.

“There is a world of difference between sitting down in Westminster with some officials from another Government or another company and actually seeing the work on the ground. What was there was phenomenal. I think there were 8,000 people on the site when we were there—something in that region. This is a colossal operation.”

Baynes commented that many had "expectations" that Wylfa Newydd would be built. But with that plan disappearing into thin air, Baynes wanted to know, “What lessons have been learned from past mistakes or past experiences at Wylfa, which are then guiding the Government on the next step forward?”

Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, 2012. Photo: Talsarnau Times. Inset: Simon Hart. Photo: PAAn impression of the mothballed Wylfa Newydd power station

Hart said, "What has changed since the first time round is the realisation of what energy security really looks like, particularly in the Ukraine period of our history—hopefully post Ukraine in due course.”

The UK government has committed to building eight small modular reactors (SMR's) by 2050.

Hart told the Committee: “Wylfa, if not top, is probably near the top of the list of potential sites. In other words, if we don’t get Wylfa going, the others will be really hard.”

According to Hart, " With all of these things we are talking about a project that might take 10 or 12 years to reach fruition, with many, many environmental and regulatory challenges along the way and a funding challenge in the multi-billions, involving probably at least two Governments and numerous private sector contributors as well.

“This is a long road ahead. We are further down it than we ever have been as far as Wylfa is concerned.”

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