Nuclear Investment

One of the biggest inward investment projects the UK has ever seen

02 January 2019
An image of a nuclear power station

For more than a decade Dylan Williams, Head of Regulation & Economic Development at the Isle of Anglesey Council, has been directly involved with plans for a new nuclear power station on the island where he was born and raised. Responsible for leading and co-ordinating the council’s statutory planning responsibilities, he has found himself driving forward plans for the biggest inward investment project the UK has ever seen, and one of the most complex planning applications ever made. The stakes are high for the local host community.

Horizon Nuclear Power, which is fully owned by Hitachi Ltd. in Japan, is hoping to build two advanced boiling water nuclear reactors on the site adjacent to the former Magnox power station on the island of Anglesey, North Wales. An application was submitted in June 2018 to the Planning Inspectorate and is now in the examination stage: if consent is secured – in 2019 – it will take eight years to build the power station, cost more than £15 billion, and require up to 9,000 workers at peak construction.

'I consider it a privilege to work on this,' says Dylan. 'Not many people have the opportunity that my colleagues and I have to shape the future of the island. There’s widespread support locally for the development, because of the supply chain and economic benefits it will bring for the youngsters, allowing them to stay and enjoy long prosperous lives here. At the moment, there is significant outward migration and if that continues for two further generations, that will become a serious issue. This project is of fundamental importance to what sort of island Anglesey will be for future generations. Despite this, there is also concern and some opposition.'

A Burges Salmon team led by partner Gary Soloman was appointed in 2011. 'It was probably seven years ago that we first understood the magnitude of what we were dealing with,' says Dylan. 'The scale and complexity of the project is still an eye-opener on an almost daily basis and since we appointed Burges Salmon, there has been a sense of partnership and collaboration with them playing a key role in our core team.'

Gary and his colleagues have visited Anglesey on a weekly basis and Dylan says he and colleagues speak with members of the firm most days, which has helped develop a strong collaborative team approach through the commitment to regular visits.

Gary says: 'This is a once-in-ageneration opportunity to transform the island of Anglesey, which currently faces a number of socio-economic challenges. We have been working with the council on all aspects of the project, from assisting with its strategic advice to drafting and negotiating the legal agreements needed to deliver the appropriate enhancements and protections for the local environment and community.'

These have included efforts to manage and reduce the potential impacts on local tourism, housing education and training, as well as the labour market, highways, the environment, the ecology and the landscape. Protecting the Welsh language and ensuring the construction workers can be housed during the building phase with minimum long-term disruption have also been critical issues.

'It’s already been a long journey,' says Dylan, 'and I have to remind myself that we are actually now in the formal examination stage. We’ve made great progress and Burges Salmon has been there throughout – it’s been professional and enjoyable to work with. There’s mutual respect, mutual trust, and a mutual understanding of the outcomes we are trying to achieve; a relationship we can all be proud of.'

Since we appointed Burges Salmon there has been a sense of partnership and collaboration.
Dylan Williams, Head of Regulation and Economic Development at Anglesey Council

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