JAPANESE engineering giant Hitachi today agreed to buy EON and RWE’s Horizon nuclear power projects for £700 million, winning plaudits from politicians but angering the environmental lobby.
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the announcement as a “decades-long, multibillion-pound vote of confidence” in the UK, but Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace branded Hitachi’s technology as a “risky and expensive gamble”.
Horizon – which has the rights to build two reactors, on Anglesey and in Gloucestershire – was put up for sale earlier this year after the German government decided to pull out of nuclear power following Japan’s Fukushima accident.
Analysts believe the deal removes uncertainty over the future of nuclear power in the UK, while the value of the sale was higher than many had expected.
The facilities are expected to generate power equivalent to up to 14 million homes over 60 years.
Up to 6,000 jobs are expected to be created during construction at each site, with a further 1,000 permanent jobs at both locations once operational.
Hitachi said it would sign supply-chain deals with Babcock and Rolls-Royce for the sites.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “Hitachi bring with them decades of expertise and are responsible for building some of the most advanced nuclear reactors on time and on budget.”
Trade unions also welcomed the announcement, but environmental campaigners called for an end to UK government plans to build further reactors.
Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen said: “It speaks volumes about the UK’s struggling nuclear programme that the government is promoting a reactor that’s years from being granted UK safety approval and is designed by the company that helped build Fukushima.”