A NEW report has praised Anglesey Council’s handling of the Wylfa Newydd project, but also warns that “challenging periods” lie ahead. The Wales Audit Report has produced a report looking at the authority’s response to the proposed £12bn plant near Cemaes, which is set to funded by Hitachi with possible contributions by the UK Government. The plant, which has yet to gain a Development Consent Order (DCO), would be expected to create around 850 jobs when up and running, with the majority hailing from the local area. But while proposals have been in the pipeline for several years, construction is also dependant on a Development Consent Order (DCO) being granted by the Planning Inspectorate. The report, that will be presented to the authority’s Audit and Governance Committee on Wednesday, generally praises the council’s response thus far, including being proactive in setting up its “Energy Island” programme in conjunction with both the public and private sectors – with Wylfa Newydd playing the major role. Its been forecast that the programme could contribute nearly £25 billion to the Anglesey and north Wales economy over the next 15 years, with apprenticeships, specialist work experience placements and teaching skills all being developed to prepare locals for the new jobs on offer. However, the report also acknowledges that Wylfa Newydd also presents several risks including the impact on the island’s language, culture and environment as well as increased demand placing a heavier burden on local services due to the temporary population boom. “The council has made good progress as host authority without compromising the delivery of other priorities, but a challenging period lies ahead during which closer collaboration among public sector partners will be vital,” the report notes. “The demands on the council are likely to increase but the demands will also change in nature as Wylfa Newydd progresses. “These demands, both in the immediate and longer terms, will require resilience on the part of the council so that it delivers its day-to-day objectives as well as hosting the successful development of Wylfa Newydd.” The report also recommends that Anglesey Council should work with other public sector partners to develop the supply chain and increase the training opportunities across north Wales. It also found that local businesses should be trained to improve their chances of successfully bidding for contracts. However, the report also praised the authority for recognising the challenges ahead by restructuring internally to provide more members of staff to work on Wylfa Newydd and further work being required to mitigate the possibility of a rise in homelessness. A report published by the council in March, found that the number of homeless people could rise on the island as result of thousands of construction workers moving in – driving up rental prices due to increased demand. Employment at peak construction would be about 8,500 for approximately 12 months, with about 4,000 people working on site at any given time. But Horizon only expect 2,000 jobs will be local, meaning extra accommodation will be needed. The report concluded: “It is important that public sector consultees, including key partnerships in which the council is involved, co-ordinate their work, sharing information and ensuring that they are clear about respective responsibilities. “It is in the interests of the public sector in Wales to ensure that it works together to provide a comprehensive and consistent assessment of how best to maximise the opportunities offered by the Wylfa development and how to resource the mitigation of risks.” The findings of the report will be discussed by the Audit and Governance Committee when it meets in Llangefni on Wednesday.
North Wales Chronicle 25th June 2018 read more »