Pwyllgor yr Economi, Masnach a Materion Gwledig

Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee

26/10/2023

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Hefin David
Luke Fletcher
Paul Davies Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Samuel Kurtz
Vikki Howells

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Alan Raymant Cwmni Egino
Cwmni Egino
Alwen Williams Uchelgais Gogledd Cymru
Ambition North Wales
Helen Higgs Grwp Strategaeth Sgiliau Niwclear
Nuclear Skills Strategy Group
Jane Lancastle Prospect
Prospect
Llinos Medi Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn
Isle of Anglesey County Council
Yr Athro Adrian Bull Prifysgol Manceinion
University of Manchester
Yr Athro Simon Middleburgh Prifysgol Bangor
Bangor University
Simon Bowen Niwclear Prydain Fawr
Great British Nuclear
Tom Greatrex Cymdeithas y Diwydiant Niwclear
Nuclear Industry Association

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Evan Jones Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Lara Date Ail Glerc
Second Clerk
Lucy Morgan Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Nia Moss Ymchwilydd
Researcher

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions, and declarations of interest

Croeso, bawb, i'r cyfarfod hwn o Bwyllgor yr Economi, Masnach a Materion Gwledig y Senedd. Dwi wedi cael ymddiheuriadau gan Buffy Williams. Dwi ddim wedi cael ymddiheuriadau oddi wrth neb arall. A oes yna unrhyw fuddiannau hoffai Aelodau eu datgan o gwbl? Nag oes. 

Welcome, everyone, to this meeting of the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee at the Senedd. I have received apologies from Buffy Williams. I haven't received any other apologies from Members this morning. Do Members have any interests to declare this morning? I see that there are none.

2. Papurau i'w nodi
2. Papers to note

Symudwn ni ymlaen felly at eitem 2 ar ein hagenda, sef papurau i'w nodi. Mae yna nifer o bapurau i'w nodi heddiw. A oes yna unrhyw faterion hoffai Aelodau eu codi o'r papurau yma o gwbl? Na. 

We'll move on therefore to item 2 on our agenda, which is papers to note. There are a number of papers to note today. Are there any issues that Members wish to raise arising from these papers? No. 

3. Ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru: Diwydiant Niwclear ac Undebau
3. Nuclear energy and the Welsh economy: Nuclear industry and Unions

Felly, symudwn ni ymlaen at eitem 3 ar ein hagenda. Dyma sesiwn banel gyntaf yr ymchwiliad undydd heddiw i ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru, ac rŷm ni yn cymryd tystiolaeth gan gynrychiolwyr y diwydiant niwclear a'r undeb llafur Prospect. Yn benodol, mae'r pwyllgor yn ystyried pa effaith economaidd bosibl y gallai datblygiadau niwclear newydd yng ngogledd Cymru ei chael ar yr economi rhanbarthol, beth y gellir ei wneud i sicrhau bod cyflogaeth leol a chadwyni cyflenwi lleol, neu gadwyni cyflenwi sydd wedi eu lleoli yng Nghymru, ar eu hennill, pa heriau y gallai'r prinder sgiliau presennol eu cyflwyno, a sut y gellid goresgyn yr heriau hyn. A gaf i felly groesawu'r tystion i'n sesiwn ni y bore yma? Cyn ein bod ni yn symud yn syth at gwestiynau, a gaf i ofyn iddyn nhw i gyflwyno eu hunain i'r record? Efallai y gallaf ddechrau gyda Helen Higgs. 

So, we'll move on to item 3 on our agenda. This is the first panel session of today's one-day inquiry into nuclear energy and the Welsh economy, and we are taking evidence from representatives of the nuclear industry and the trade union Prospect. In particular, the committee is considering what potential economic impact new nuclear developments in north Wales could have on the regional economy, what can be done to ensure that any new nuclear projects maximise local employment and local supply chains, or supply chains located in Wales, what challenges current skills shortages could pose, and how these challenges could then be overcome. So, may I welcome witnesses to our session this morning? Before we move straight to questions, may I ask them to introduce themselves for the record, please? Perhaps I could start with Helen Higgs.   

Good morning. Helen Higgs. I am co-chair of the nuclear skills strategy group, and I lead on construction workforce planning for EDF Energy nuclear new build.

Bore da. Jane Lancastle, Prospect trade union, assistant national secretary. 

Tom Greatrex. I'm the chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, which is the trade body for the civil nuclear sector. 

Thank you very much indeed for those introductions, and perhaps I can just kick off this session with a few questions. How likely is it that there will be another large-scale nuclear development after Sizewell C, in your view? And if there is a further gigawatt project, what can be done and by whom to ensure that that is in Wylfa? Who'd like to kick off with those questions? Helen.

Well, what we know is that there is a target of 24 GW by 2035 [Correction: '2050'], and we know that there are sites, such as Wylfa, that are nearest to being able to be optimised. So, if we are looking at delivery, it would be one of the sites that will be closest to enable that delivery. It makes sense. 

To reinforce what Helen's just said, the 24 GW by 2050 target means we're going to need a lot of capacity. There are a number of sites that have been identified in a siting statement that was done in 2008, I believe. Wylfa is one. People will, obviously, be aware that there was a previous project for Wylfa, Horizon, that didn't get, sadly, to fruition, but it's a site that is—. If you were to speak to anybody involved in nuclear, it's a site that is very highly regarded because of its geography, geology, community support—a range of different factors that make it a very strong site for new-build development. And whilst there is 24 GW by 2050, the detail of exactly what technologies hasn't yet been established, it's pretty clear that the established sites—as Helen says, the ones that are closest to fruition where there's already been some work—are likely to be at the front of that queue. And so, I think it's highly likely, if there's a gigawatt-scale reactor beyond Sizewell C, that it will be at Wylfa.

Similarly, the 2050 target—. Now, Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C, they're not going to be able to deliver the needed capacity on their own, given the size of the reactor closure, and with all the UK reactors due to come offline by the end of the decade. So, a further gigawatt-scale nuclear power station will be needed. If we are to reach that, then we believe that the large-scale development is needed of small modular reactors to produce the 0.5 GW, so we'd need 48 of those. The issue Prospect sees is there's no clear, strategic plan to drive this.

On the matter of Wylfa, from what we understand of our connections, Wylfa appears to be more in the frame, but we believe that’s obviously tied to UK Government decision making.

09:35

And with regard to small modular reactors, what in your view needs to be done, and by whom, for Trawsfynydd or Wylfa to be the site of the UK's first small modular reactor?

Well, in relation to Trawsfynydd—and I'm sure you'll be talking to Cwmni Egino later, I think, and others on this—it's a site that obviously has a nuclear heritage, it's got supportive parliamentary representation, it's got supportive trade unions and others, to be utilised for an SMR. It's not suitable for large-scale reactors because of the geography and the water supply. But to be able to be somewhere where you can have a development, there needs to be a siting process done for additional sites. And if we’re going to get to 24 GW by 2050, there will need to be additional sites to those that are already identified in the national planning statement. But, as yet, currently Trawsfynydd isn’t on that list of sites. So, that’s what needs to happen firstly, and that is the responsibility, I think—. It’s a UK Government responsibility, but it’s something that I know that Great British Nuclear—and again, I know you’re going to hear from Simon Bowen later—are heavily involved in.

As an industry, as an industry association, we’re very clear that we think that Trawsfynydd is a very strong site that should be, if not right at the very start, in the first tranche of potential sites for SMR, because of the support for it, and also it’s a site that’s suitable for SMR, but which wouldn’t be suitable for large scale. And if you’re going to get to 24 GW, you need a mix of both large and small.

I think, to add to Tom's point, in terms of the skills infrastructure required, there is a legacy of the skills infrastructure from previous developments, early developments, and now potentially stronger than it was around Grŵp Llandrillo Menai with the universities. And I know that there has been a good deal in the north-west of socioeconomic early planning, so I think they're thinking ahead, it's clear.

Nothing further to add. I'm conscious of the best use of our time, and I know you're going to hear from Cwmni Egino later on.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Thank you, panel, for joining us this morning. Focusing on the socioeconomic impacts, I just wanted to see what can be done to ensure that any new project, nuclear project, maximises the benefits in terms of local employment and Welsh-based businesses. I'm not sure who wants to start. Tom.

Well, the first thing, I think, is having clarity about a programme. Because when you know what your programme’s going to be, that is the thing that stimulates supply-chain companies to invest, both in their people and their capability. We know from what’s happening at Hinkley at the moment that that has reinvigorated aspects of the nuclear supply chain, and there are a lot of people on site—I was there on Tuesday—there are thousands of people working on that site, and about a third of them are from the local area. So, that’s a range of different things, in construction and, in time, in operation, as well as in the supply chain. So, the opportunities are pretty clear from when you have projects, but you’ve got to know what the projects are, because until you do, it’s very hard for supply-chain companies to justify investment in skills and training and also in facilities, et cetera, to be able to service that, until they know what the requirement’s going to be. As yet, although we’ve got a high-level target, we don’t have the road map that’s been promised by the UK Government, which would hopefully set that out in a bit more detail for the industry to invest in.

Okay. Before I ask the panel the same question, in terms of those jobs, then, you mentioned that at Hinkley Point a third seemed to be local. There are a lot of constituents of mine who are involved in Hinkley Point through civil engineering jobs, all the way through to welding, et cetera. Do workers tend to settle in an area? What's the jobs impact of workers in that area? Is it a sort of travelling show, where they'll work in an area and then lift tools and go on to the next job? How does that work with the local economic community?

There's a mixture. So, there are some that are established in that area anyway, or in the south-west. Because of other facilities and other companies that are based in the south-west, there are people that are not far from Hinkley, but there are also others that travel week to week, and that's the type of roles that they're involved in.

So, should a project in north Wales occur, they'd be willing to travel to the north Wales jobs.

Yes. Again, a lot of people I was talking to on Tuesday, for example, were coming from the north-east—welders from the north-east. They live in the north-east of England, but they travel down week to week. But there are also a lot of people who are local to, in and around, the Somerset area who are working on the site in a range of different roles. So, there will be a mixture, I think. Helen may be able to speak to that better than me.

09:40

Thank you. To that point, the percentage of local workforce—whatever local is; 90 minutes, or however you define it—tends to change over the course of the project. The further you get into the more nuclear phase, the mechanical, electrical phase of the project—on Hinkley Point—the lower the percentage of local population. And I think the key to maintaining a higher percentage of local population is by starting the planning for training well ahead of a project curve. I'm talking three to four years, I'm not talking too much more than that, providing, as Tom referred to earlier, there is a signal to allow the developer in particular to support the supply chain. The supply chain, otherwise, takes all the risk, and it's their bottom line. So, if they are going to take on the cost of more apprentices or more training, they need help, either through some kind of early contract involvement or through some levy cascade or whatever it might be. But they need some help to take that risk.

If I could just add one more point, if I may. To maximise and optimise local workforce, which is what everyone would like to do, you have to build early experience. So, you need to think about, in that planning, the collaboration with existing gigawatt or megawatt projects, so that as they train, they can go to one of the other projects and gain experience. Because it's the lack of experience that means that you will reduce the local content.

There are a mixture of workers involved in these different phases, particularly for the construction phases—you said you know yourself, you've got constituents who move across. They are much more of a transient workforce, and it comes with the job, so there is an expectation that they may be in a project for a sustained period of time. So, I think that's important to think about at this moment—there will be a sustained period of time where there will be workers in that vicinity. How they are accommodated in that vicinity is quite a mixed picture from what we see in our members.

Some who are young, who know that there's going to be a long period of time, may decide to locate to that area for that period of time. Whether you can capture them and keep them there is another thing. What we do know as well, though, is that it is very much an ageing workforce, which needs to be considered. We know as well that there is skilled labour that's already moved from Hinkley Point C to a project in Sizewell C, but, obviously, that's easier, because that's granted through the transfer within EDF as their employer. I know we're going to go on to the skills side of things as well and the ageing workforce, so I'll hold my thoughts there for the next question.

Thank you, Chair. I'm going to ask some questions around skills shortages. Firstly, how challenging are the current skills shortages to the nuclear industry and what needs to be done to improve this? I'm also thinking particularly about what needs to be done, and by whom, to encourage young people in Wales to pursue a career in nuclear energy.

Thank you, Vikki. There are two distinct workforces; there's the construction workforce to build the project, and then, if you like, the project management organisation, which, perhaps, are very distinct workforces. The challenges for the construction workforce will depend on the other national infrastructure and energy projects going on at the time. It's not a particularly nuclear workforce; it's construction—steel fixers, concrete pourers, lifters, diggers, with supervisory, et cetera. So, the thing that needs to be managed is the increase of other major projects, and collaborating across those projects is key. In terms of the project management-type workforce, again, it's working across major projects so that you are managing wage inflation, so that you are not getting the movement of that management cadre between projects.

On encouraging young people, I think that there are two key things. One is very simply making them aware of the opportunities, because not everyone knows about welding as a career, for example. The NSSG has got some key activities in developing experts, which is around going into schools, into the curriculum. A programme will be released in early 2024 called Destination Nuclear to attract a wider population, including young people, into nuclear. I think the second key thing is mapping career pathways. Lots of people talk about high-value jobs, but you have to start on that ladder somewhere, and nobody should be excluded. So, whether you get on that ladder at a national vocational qualification level 1 or 2, so, if you like, at the bottom of the ladder—. You need to see that if you get on as a welder at level 2, you could go all the way up to being a welding engineer, or you could get off wherever you choose to. And that's what young people need to see, because they are a different generation with different drivers, and they need to see what's in it for them.

09:45

I'd like to reinforce that point. There is a whole range of opportunities that come with a project. As Helen said, in relation to welders as an example, if you are qualified as a highly competent and highly skilled welder, you are going to be very much in demand beyond that project into other areas. It's helping people to understand that that is a career path that may well go beyond a particular project—not necessarily in nuclear, but in other infrastructure. I think that the other thing is the breadth of opportunities. With a big project comes a whole range of non-technical, non-construction roles as well, that again aren't necessarily nuclear. They are roles that you need in any big project or in other ways in support functions in a whole range of different things. So, it's the range of opportunities that can speak to people's opportunities.

The thing that has been, I think, really instructive and successful in Somerset around Hinkley has been the number of young people who have seen the work that EDF has done in schools and colleges, and have picked up on something. They never thought of themselves as working in the nuclear industry. They have been involved, potentially, at early stages of vocational training in particular things, have seen the opportunities, and have actually gone into something that they never dreamed of doing and now are hugely fulfilled in a whole range of areas that they hadn't thought about. It gives them the opportunity to carry on living in the area where their family is based, if that's what they want to do. That's a real benefit that comes from those types of projects because of the nature of the geographies where they are likely to be based.  

Eighty per cent of the workforce will be non-nuclear. In answer to the first part of your question, a primary driver for upskilling within the current workforce, I think, is the Welsh approach to engineering and apprenticeships. We have to put that first and foremost, with an ageing population within the current sector. For younger people to be encouraged—well, for younger people, and for people to remain in those sectors—there has to be that confidence that there is longevity in those workplaces.

For the younger sector, Helen mentioned earlier about looking ahead three or four years. I believe that we need to look further ahead than that. You talk about schools and colleges. Perhaps at this stage, we should be looking at late primary stage, secondary schools, to be thinking with ambition, going forward, for our workforce in the future. 

Thank you. I note there that all of you referred to the predominance of non-nuclear skills within the workforce, which leads me on to my second question really well, actually. I was wondering to what extent your sector is competing with other sectors for those kinds of workers, particularly large infrastructure builds or renewable energy projects. What needs to be done, and who needs to do that, to ensure that the workforce in Wales has those right skills and the capacity to attract these large developments?  

We know the profile of a gigawatt or megawatt workforce, and we know which ones will be impacted by other major projects. So, it helps to create the delivery and implementation plan, providing the signals are given to developers and supply chains, so that we can start that activity and motion. Nuclear has a slight difference to some major infrastructure projects, for example HS2, as Tom said earlier, in that because it is on a particular site, it has a stability and a huge support workforce, and that is usually less competitive. I say 'usually' because of the recent issue with bus drivers, but that is usually much more stable and gives real longevity to someone—10 plus years for that individual seeking employment and perhaps onwards into operations. So, the key is starting the planning ahead of what that workforce needs to be, ahead of the curve, so that you can start to mitigate the competition arising from other projects, including defence projects. 

09:50

It might sound a bit like a single transferable answer, but having clarity of programme is so important in this, because that enables everything that Helen has just talked about and everything that we've said. It enables then supply chains to gear up, it enables the developers to know what's going to be coming, so you can help invest in the training schemes, and it helps colleges to be able to understand the type of courses that there's going to be a benefit in them offering—a benefit to the community—and that they're going to be able to sustain. And then, it helps in attracting young people in, because you'll know where those opportunities are coming and what skills are required. The biggest single important thing we can have and that we need, really, beyond the high-level target of a gigawatt by a date, is how that breaks down, what the projects are likely to be. And the sooner you're able to get that and the greater clarity you're able to get about how that will be made up, the easier it will be to deliver it and the more straightforward it will be to deliver it, and the greater economic benefit there will be for communities as a result. 

Whilst I referred earlier to a transient population, for our members in Prospect, who are professional and specialist, one of the things they look to now is obviously job security, and within that good job design and opportunities to grow within their career in those roles. And I think that will be key to providing—. I'd like to use the word 'guarantee'. But you referred to the HS2 project, and people will be looking to choose those projects that would be able to deliver what they are looking for in their career and provide job security. 

Can I ask the panel if the UK-wide apprenticeship levy has had any impact on plans for training in the sector, and particularly across apprenticeships, given that in England the apprenticeship levy goes back as a voucher scheme, I believe, whereas in Wales it's effectively a tax that just takes money to the UK Treasury? Is there any view on that in the sector?

Shall I take that one first? Certainly for Hinkley Point it's had a very positive effect. It doesn't mean it operates exactly as we would like it to operate, but I think it's created the catalyst for—. We're now on just under 1,200 apprentices on Hinkley Point C across a range of roles. So it really has created the catalyst. And, in addition to that, because you can cascade the levy down your supply chain, it means we've been able to support the lower supply chain on investing in apprentices, and Sizewell C has a target of 1,500 apprentices. I hope this answers your question, but I think where it needs to help us to deliver apprenticeships and to have a social impact is by supporting pre-apprenticeship programmes, and also providing what you might call bursaries or travel and subsistence allowances for those who cannot afford or who are not at the right level. You need to arrive there somehow, so, yes.

09:55

The issue here in Wales, of course, is that the apprenticeship levy just doesn't apply, because the levy is on employers but goes directly to the UK Treasury and doesn't come directly to the Welsh Government. It's supposedly Barnettised in some way, but we know from research that it just doesn't come back in the same form. Therefore, any operations in Wales would need to account for that. Are you aware of that situation?

I'm not aware of the detail, but I agree with your point that, if you are to deliver opportunities, you need to be able to control the delivery of it as far as possible. I suppose it also depends largely on where the supply-chain organisation is based. So, there'll be some nuances there, won't there?

I think the issue would be, where Welsh Government is looking to develop things like degree apprenticeships or even expand apprenticeships, a greater proportion of contribution from employers might be expected and employers might see themselves as already contributing through the apprenticeship levy. The Welsh Government wouldn't see it that way, as it has no control over the apprenticeship levy.

Yes. So, an increased cost to the bottom line of the project—that's the reality. And I think the other thing just to throw in is that a lot of the supply-chain organisations may be leviable to the industry training boards—the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board or the Construction Industry Training Board. So, I think it's important to be aware of the number of levies that one is talking about. 

The landscape between the Welsh Government and UK Government in that area isn't good; I'd say that the jagged edge of devolution is probably at its most jagged at this point in time. So, what interactions are you having with the UK and Welsh Governments together on identifying and delivering those future skills needs of the sector? Welsh Government is clear on developing degree-level apprenticeships; the UK Government is taking a slightly different approach in England. How do you reconcile those different approaches, and have you perhaps an honest broker role in some of this? What successes have you had?

I know that NSSG has had some interaction with the Welsh Government and I think there is a role to be had. I think we all have a joint interest in delivering these apprenticeships; we have a joint interest in doing this. So, there is a role. In terms of success, lobbying how the levy is drawn down—I also speak with my EDF Energy hat on—there is a will at the moment to make it work. So, the lobbying that we have undertaken so far has not seen any change in policy, but I think there is a will at the moment to see things move. So, I'm hopeful.

And what interactions have you had? Can you just outline the interactions you've had with the Welsh Government?

NSSG has had some interactions—and I do apologise, that predated me. Personally, I've interacted with the local authorities in Wales as EDF and as National College for Nuclear.

No. Okay. Thanks, Hefin. Thank you very much. I'll now bring in Luke Fletcher. Luke.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. I have a few questions mainly around supply chains, and if I could start with Tom, if that's okay, just because I picked up on something in the written evidence given by the Nuclear Industry Association that I thought would be quite interesting just to get a bit of clarity on and for you to elaborate on. The point that was made was that the best way to maximise local employment and local supply chains is for the Government to take at least a minority equity stake in future projects in Wales. So, could you just expand a bit on that?

Yes. I think there we were referencing UK Government equity stake, because of the way in which it's happening—likely to happen—in Sizewell and may well happen in future projects, and the different financing mechanism that will be used for future projects. But what that does is two things. Firstly, the point we were making before about confidence in a project going ahead—it increases that, therefore that helps to decrease the cost of capital, which is one part of the equation about how much a project ends up costing. Secondly, it also sends a very strong message, when Government policies are about trying to ensure localisation as far as possible in the supply chain and in skills provision, that, if the Government has a stake in it—. There's a greater opportunity for that to be pressed home, basically, is the point we're making there, so that's where the link is between potential equity stake and the opportunity to ensure that as much as possible is done from domestic supply chains.

To give an example in relation to Hinkley at the moment, I think—Helen, correct me if I've got the figure wrong, but it's about just over two thirds of contracts by value are with UK or UK joint venture companies. So, we're starting from a very good place, particularly compared with other energy sources that have struggled much more than that in terms of UK content. But there are many opportunities in some of the skilled areas, some of the nuclear areas, where, if there's a programme, then the investment will enable that to happen in some forgings, for example, that currently are imported from other places. That can be done domestically if there is enough of a demand that justifies ensuring you have the facilities and the capability to provide them. So, that's where the link is between an equity stake and local and regional content.

10:00

So, essentially, keeping a hand on, I don't know, the steering wheel, in a sense, to direct investment and focus in a way that is beneficial for communities.

Yes, absolutely, as well as reducing the cost of capital in conjunction with it, which also, therefore, makes it something that's more likely, more attractive for local and regional interaction as part of that project.

Okay. The other point I wanted to raise as well around supply chains is that, obviously, as we look at the global context and energy security, projects around nuclear are being announced across the globe. That is going to put some pressure on supply chains, isn't it?

Yes. At the moment, there are many, many countries that are either accelerating or revising upwards or coming new to nuclear as part of their energy security and decarbonisation agendas across the world, indeed, including countries that previously were either hostile to or were saying they weren't ever going to do any more nuclear. So, there's been quite a significant change in the last couple of years. That means the demand for skills and for projects is very high, and that's why—. Again, I apologise for repeating the same point, but that's why the programme is so important, because, if you've got clarity about what the programme's going to be, that will help to ensure that projects happen here are nearer the front of the queue than if you leave it for too long, in which case, projects will be happening in other parts of the world and other parts of Europe, which would have a detrimental impact on what can be done here in the same time frame.

So, I suppose, then—. You talked about clarity around the project as one way of potentially mitigating, then, some of those supply-chain pressures. Is there any other way of mitigating that? That's probably the million-dollar question, really.

Yes. Look, knowing what your programme's going to be and the time frame you're going to do it in is really important. There are lots of things that feed into that: so, clarity on what the sites are going to be, because that will then help projects get up and running; then clarity of what technologies you're going to use, because that then enables investment to happen in the supply chain to deliver to those technologies. Because they're all—. They're similar, mostly, in terms of the nuclear technology, but they're all a bit different; there are different things they'll require. All of that—you know, the confidence that comes from having clarity of programme is key to investment, and that drives then the skills, the opportunities, the jobs that can come from that and everything that follows.

Trying to do it in a way that's piecemeal, like, 'We'll build one, then we'll wait a bit for a few years and then decide whether we build another one, wait a bit for a few years and then decide not to,' which is, arguably what happened with Sizewell B, all that does is it increases the cost, because you ramp up a supply chain that then has to disaggregate afterwards, then you wait a few years and you have to start it all up again. It's much better, much more efficient and economically viable and a greater opportunity for local content if what you have is a programme over a period of time that people can work to and invest to. That's really what, if you're going to deliver 24 GW by 2050, needs to happen.

Thank you, Luke. Are there any other questions at all? No. Our session has therefore come to an end, so thank you very much indeed for being with us this morning. Your evidence will be very useful for our one-day inquiry. A copy of today's transcript will be sent to you in due course, so, if there are any issues with that, then please let us know, but, once again, thank you for being with us this morning.

We'll now take a short break to prepare for the next session.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:04 a 10:19.

The meeting adjourned between 10:04 and 10:19.

10:15
4. Ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru: Cwmnïau Datblygu Niwclear
4. Nuclear energy and the Welsh economy: Nuclear development companies

Croeso nôl i gyfarfod o Bwyllgor yr Economi, Masnach a Materion Gwledig. Fe symudwn ni ymlaen nawr i eitem 4 ar ein hagenda. Dyma ail sesiwn banel ein hymchwiliad undydd i ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru, ac rŷn ni yn cymryd tystiolaeth gan gwmnïau datblygu niwclear. A gaf fi, felly, groesawu’r tystion i’r sesiwn yma? A cyn ein bod ni yn symud yn syth i gwestiynau, gaf i ofyn iddyn nhw i gyflwyno eu hunain i'r record, ac efallai y gallaf i ddechrau gyda Simon Bowen?

Welcome back to this meeting of the Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee. We'll move on now to item 4 on our agenda. This is the second panel session of our one-day inquiry into nuclear energy in the Welsh economy, and we're now taking evidence from nuclear development companies. So, may I welcome the witnesses to this session? Before we move to questions, I'll ask the witnesses to introduce themselves for the record, and perhaps I can start with Simon Bowen.

I'm Simon Bowen. I'm the chair of Great British Nuclear, the arm's-length body that was recently set up by Government to deliver its nuclear programme.

My name is Alan Raymant. I'm chief executive of Cwmni Egino, which is a company owned by Welsh Government to look at the development around the Trawsfynydd site.

Thank you very much indeed for those introductions. And perhaps I can just kick off the session with a few questions. In your view, how likely is it that there will be future large-scale nuclear developments after Sizewell C, and, if there is a further gigawatt project, what can be done and by who to ensure it's Wylfa? Who'd like to go first—Simon?

10:20

Quite happy to start, yes. With the Government’s target of up to 24 GW, that's a very substantial programme of nuclear developments, and it's quite difficult to see how that can be delivered without another one or two large-scale gigawatt. Now, that does in itself provide some challenges, (1) because Hinkley is a big and expensive project and Sizewell will be the same, and, because of the determination of the Office for National Statistics, it sits on the Government balance sheet, so any future investment in gigawatt needs to be very carefully thought through. The Government has gone for SMRs at the moment because—. They are not proven, but, if they are proven, then they should be lower cost, they should be cheaper to finance and quicker to build. So, the current policy is that we will build Hinkley and Sizewell, but there is no determination on whether we will go for future gigawatt. There are, however, noises from both within the civil service and from within Government that it does make sense to go forward with it. When that decision will be made, I think that's quite difficult to predict.

Now, to the second part of your question, I think Wylfa, particularly, makes the case for itself. Many people talk about it being the best site in Europe and et cetera, et cetera. The reality is it's a very well characterised site. The design work for multiple reactors has been completed on it, and it has many of the kind of transport plans, the social acceptability—. You know, accepting this was a while ago, I think it's in good shape. The main thing that needs to happen—and it's not within the gift of the Welsh Assembly—is that Government's got to make a decision on whether it wants gigawatt or not, because there's no question in my mind that the best site for gigawatt is Wylfa. So, that's kind of where we are.

I don't have anything to add to what Simon said on the policy side; all I'd say is that, in an early part of my career, I spent seven years with Horizon Nuclear Power developing the site. So, just to reiterate Simon's point, really, that it is very well characterised. All of the design work was done for a previous design, and therefore we know that the site is suitable, feasible, from that perspective, and therefore could be delivered successfully.

And Simon, you mentioned SMRs earlier. How promising is it that Trawsfynydd will be the site of the first small modular reactor and what more needs to be done and by who to make this happen?

So, if I can just describe the SMR selection process, I can describe how it all fits together, so if you just bear with the context for a second. Government policy is they've decided they want to go for SMRs because of the promise of lower cost and faster deployment. That's driven by net zero—. Sorry, let me say that again. That's not driven by net zero; it's driven by energy security, with net zero as a secondary part of that, a very important secondary part of it, but it's driven by energy security for all the reasons that have been well practised over the last couple of years. Why is that important? Because, to deliver energy security, you've got to deploy at scale and pace, and so our view, and my personal view, and the view of GBN is that, to deliver at scale at pace, you can't just do one SMR, you've got to put the infrastructure in place and then build multiple SMRs, preferably on the same site, to give you the scale that you need.

And the second part of it is that, because they're uncertain and they are novel, we are recommending to Government that they should build two fleets, two different designs, to manage the risk from an energy security perspective, but also for operational resilience. So, that means that we would need to develop two sites.

Now, would we consider Traws as part of that? Yes, we would. The reality about Traws is that Traws is a smaller site and therefore would not be the most competitive—is the best way to put it—if you look at it from a scale and pace perspective, because it's not in the policy statement. Now, that does not for one minute discount Traws as being a very attractive nuclear site for other potential developments, such as AMR—you know, the advanced modular reactors—or, potentially, test reactors. There's no question that it has its place in that, but would it be at the front of the queue for the current SMR selection process? I think that’s unlikely. So, yes, I think that’s where we are. So, what needs to be done? We will continue to work very closely with Alan and his team to work out what is the best use for Traws and when might that happen, as we develop our view on which site should be developed first.

10:25

Yes, I guess, just to put in a little bit of context from our perspective. Welsh Government set Cwmni Egino up to look at, principally, socioeconomic development opportunities around the Trawsfynydd site, looking at potential developments there. So, the work we did last year was really exploring that, and we concluded that, in the near term, the best opportunity was to seek to be one of the early projects in the GBN programme.

Now, of course, when we started that work, GBN hadn’t actually been set up and the policy framework now is much clearer than it was then and we think it’s feasible to do that, but, of course, as Simon said, the scale issue has to be considered as well. So, we’re also then looking at other options around, ‘Well, okay, if we don’t do that, there’s the AMR option.' There are other things we can consider so that we can continue to do that work.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Thank you both for joining us this morning. What level of engagement is there between GBN, Cwmni Egino—how is that relationship between you both? Simon, we’ll start with you.

It's very close. The nuclear industry is a small place, so we all know each other fairly well from the previous developments and we’ve had multiple engagements with Alan and his team, and with Gwen Parry-Jones, the chief executive. So, as we’ve all been working through what the options are, we’ve kept in pretty close contact.

That’s kind of interesting, but what does that mean? Well, for us, a long-term relationship with Cwmni Egino is very important for developments in Wales, and I think the capability that Alan and the team have brought to bear in Traws—we’ve previously talked about whether that could be brought to bear in Wylfa, because it is a unique set of experiences that exist in Wales and we should be maximising it.

So, one of the things we’re in active conversation about is, ‘Okay, so, as we develop our future view of siting, and if Wylfa were to be at the front of the queue, why wouldn’t we use the talents in Cwmni Egino to pull together the development company?’ Because what GBN—. Once it’s selected its technologies, it has to set up development companies to develop the sites and develop the projects, because we don’t currently have that capability and will have to develop it. So, why would you do that in Wales without partnering with a company like Cwmni Egino, who’ve got at least some of that capability to give us a head start? So, I would say that it’s very positive; there’s a long-term intent on both sides and, as we get clear on the siting policy, we’ll get much clearer on what that commercial relationship needs to look like.

Can I just clarify, then, Simon, with you: would Wylfa be one of the first sites for SMR selection?

It's a very promising site and it is wholly dependent on whether the Government decides it wants to go forward with gigawatt, because if it wants to go forward with gigawatt, it is the best site in the UK currently for doing gigawatts. So, there is a big piece of policy to be decided. Because it's also very attractive for SMRs, because there are a number of schemes that would indicate that you may be able to build between 10 and 16 SMRs, which then starts to really get after your scale argument. So, we’ve got to nail that first, but our view is that it’s a very attractive site and should we be pushing that into the distance and waiting? I think that’s flawed as an argument; I think we need to think about how it’s developed, quickly.

Thank you for that. Alan, would you concur with regard to the relationship between Cwmni Egino and GBN?

Yes, absolutely, and I think what I would add is that we've been very clear that we're not in competition with GBN at all. In fact, we need to be working together for the whole programme across the UK, so that’s the important aspect. The other thing I would say is that Welsh Government has been very clear with us that it’s not in a position to sponsor the development of a nuclear project on its own anyway. So, naturally, therefore, there’s an opportunity at the Government-to-Government level, as well as between Cwmni Egino and GBN, to develop a partnership.

10:30

So, on that final point, then, with regard to the involvement of Welsh Government and UK Government, and then yourselves, as the four partners in that, how is that relationship working and is there more that needs to be done there with regard to the partnership between the Welsh and UK Governments, or vice versa, including yourselves within that discussion?

So, those discussions are actually ongoing. They were initiated probably about six months ago, back in April. There have been a number of conversations that have taken place. What we're pushing for as Cwmni Egino—and we're obviously the recipient of this, rather than the driver—is to progress that conversation in parallel, obviously, with the conversations that we're having with GBN, to clarify that so that everybody has greater confidence about what the future holds and, therefore, the investment that's made, how that's going to bear fruit.

Is there anything more that needs to be done between the Governments? No, I don't think there is at the moment, because the working relationship seems pretty good to me. I'm new to the Government side of things, but from where I sit it looks constructive. I think the emphasis is now on Westminster to make the decisions that I've talked about. One: do you really want to do gigawatt, 'yes' or 'no'? And if you do, fine, let's work out what the process for that is and where Wylfa sits in that. And if you don't, where does Wylfa sit in the pecking order? And I think, naturally, once we've got that and then we put Traws into the picture through the siting work, then that will determine how that relationship develops. So, it's probably a question that we'll be able to answer better once we've decided which sites we want to progress, and that's a number of months away—not years away but a number of months away. 

An awful lot on the Wylfa site has been mentioned, but have you had any consideration of the fact that the site is owned by Hitachi? Are there any concerns that it might be difficult to access because of that? That's to Simon.

Thank you, yes. So, obviously it's fully recognised that it's owned by Hitachi and there's a set of conversations that need to happen with them. From our understanding from initial conversations with Hitachi, they are absolutely prepared for a conversation around what the future of Wylfa might be. So, I certainly don't see that as a blocker, apart from the fact, of course, that you've got to agree a price, and that's a matter of commercial negotiation that needs to ensue. And, of course, we have to have other options if we can't come to that agreement. But all the indications are at the moment that Hitachi don't want to do future gigawatt developments in the UK, it's an asset that they are prepared to consider selling, and we would absolutely be interested in putting that into the mix, simply because of the number of sites that we need to get after the 24 GW target.

Okay. Thank you very much. And for Alan Raymant, can I ask for an update on Cwmni Egino's work and where the company is in terms of developing a business plan for the Trawsfynydd site and what progress is being made to ensure that that site is part of the wider UK strategy?

Sure, okay. So, the first thing to say is that our focus last year was to work out what the best prospect for the development of Trawsfynydd was, and we encapsulated that in a proposition document that we circulated to Welsh Government and other stakeholders. Essentially, we looked at what you could fit on the site, what grid connection is available to the site, what about the lake, what about our interface with the lake, what do we think the planning and environmental context is. So, looking at all of those aspects, are there technologies—more than one—that we could deploy on the site. And we concluded that, yes, it's a feasible site for that. And then what we've been doing since then is partly talking to stakeholders about that proposition and how we take it forward and also focusing on some of the critical risk issues around any project, and in particular pursuing the grid connection for the site, which, as everybody knows, is a hugely constrained aspect. And so it's issues like that we've been focusing on to maximise the opportunity for the successful delivery of a project.

Okay. That's really helpful. Thank you. And what about the UK Government's national policy statement on the future of Trawsfynydd and the fact that it's not part of that? Have you had dialogue with the UK Government regarding that?

Yes, we have. I mean, clearly, we're not involved in the process directly, but both ourselves and Welsh Government officials have been involved in discussions from time to time with the team leading that piece of work. So, what we're expecting is a consultation to be published, I think before the end of the year, which will set out the Government's thinking. I think the key thing I'd just say on that is that the original NPS was really predicated on gigawatt scale developments, which is the principal reasons why Traws is not included in it as one of the designated sites. That doesn't mean it isn't a suitable site for nuclear development, of course, so we need to see what comes out of that review of the NPS to see how all the siting aspects are going to be taken forward and where Traws sits within it.

10:35

Okay, thank you very much indeed. I'll now bring in Vikki Howells. Vikki. No, maybe we're having some technological problems with Vikki, so I'll come to Luke first and I'll come back to Vikki. Luke.

Great. Diolch, Gadeirydd. I asked a coupled of questions to the previous panel around supply chains, specifically as well when you look at the global context around a number of nuclear of projects being announced across the globe. How confident are you that supply chains won't be stretched to a degree where it would be very difficult to progress stuff here in the UK, especially when there are multiple nuclear projects being developed here in the UK at the moment? I don't know who wants to take that first.

I'm happy to have a go first. It's a significant risk—there's no doubt about it. If anybody tells you that it's all fine and we've got plenty of people in the supply chain to be able to deliver, that's not true at the moment, so there is a substantial amount of work that needs to be done. It comes back to, I think, what Tom Greatrex was saying to you earlier on, which I had the good fortune to listen to. Tom was talking about the importance of a programme. Of all of the things that we've done as part of GBN—the Government has announced a programme that gives certainty of the long-term investibility in nuclear. Now, all we have in that programme at the moment is the SMRs—one, two or three SMRs, however many we decide, plus Hinkley, plus Sizewell. Once those are gone, what comes next?

So, we have to—. The first thing we have to have is that long-term view of the programme, because the words, 'Up to 24 GW' aren't terribly helpful. We need to have a spatial plan that indicates exactly what's required and where across the whole of the UK, which starts to give real substance to the programme. Why is that important? Because that provides investment certainty for the whole of the supply chain. All they're doing at the moment is investing in Hinkley, in the kit they need there, or potentially in Sizewell, and maybe doing some work with other SMR providers. So, there is a substantial amount of—. We can create certainty by going further with the programme. What does that do? That then allows us to give certainty to the supply chain to say, 'There are 24 GW of power that are going to be built in either SMRs or gigawatts—time for you to invest, because there's a huge opportunity.'

The advantage of having something like GBN is that we can then interface with the supply chain and start to influence the various companies and the various projects to look at the supply chain holistically and collaborate across all of the programme, so that we're not duplicating what we buy from multiple different vendors; we go to a certain set of vendors and really develop that capability. So, the short answer to your question is: is it there now? No, it's not. With the programme certainty, though, I absolutely believe, with the work of the catapults, and people like the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, there is enough work and enough capability in the UK to develop it, but there is a long way to go for us to deliver a programme and to develop the UK capability that's capable of doing that.

So, it would be fair to say, then, that there's not much disagreement with what Tom had said in the previous session. Is there anything you'd like to add at all, Alan?

No. I think the programme certainty is key, really. If you look at Hinkley, which is obviously the best example, that's an example of how the supply chain will respond when it has the certainty, so that should give us confidence that it's possible. But as I say, and as Simon says, the key is having a clear programme. And probably just one other point I would add is that with the programme you can sort of teem and ladle the speed at which things are going and making sure the opportunity for shared learning across the projects is maximised.

And that applies to skills as well, of course, because supply chains and skills are absolutely inextricably linked, and your ability to phase the programmes so you can roll skills and supply-chain capability from one project to another will be one of the prime aims and purposes of GBN.

10:40

And on the mention of skills, I can see Vikki's come back on screen. But before I hand back to you, Chair, another important element of the nuclear projects across the UK, and I think, in particular, something that's been used in the case of Wylfa on Ynys Môn, is the advantages or the benefits that they will give to local economies. So, I'm just wondering what you guys would think of placing a requirement on nuclear developers to use a minimum level of local content in any project that they're doing in that locality. Is that something you would be comfortable with, or do you think that you need the flexibility to be able to go further afield?

I think—. This is not an easy one. Do I think there'll be huge benefits to local economies when you bring in nuclear projects? Absolutely. The long-term workforce will be local, and the long-term support will be local. Particularly for the first-of-a-kind projects, there's a real dilemma about value for money and lowest cost and pace versus really bringing the supply chain up quickly. So, you can see in, maybe the second or third reactor that you build, particularly in the SMR space, that you'd start to demand more and more local—whatever you mean by 'local', but UK and local—content.

But, I think, for the first reactor, what you're trying to do is demonstrate that they work and demonstrate you can build them predictably in terms of cost and time. So, I think, in the first reactor case, it is likely that you'd have more content from outside the local area, but in the second and the third—and that's the whole premise of building fleets of these smaller reactors—then it would become more and more locally dominant.

The final point I'd make is: if you just look at the stats for Hinkley Point, the amount of local benefit that you get from these major programmes is measured in hundreds of millions and thousands of jobs. So, even with a first of a kind, the benefit is still very, very substantial.

Yes, one of the areas of work we've been doing is looking at the local needs analysis in some detail, rather than top-down, but from a bottom-up perspective of what the local communities would actually value. And I think it's helpful in that regard—and we started to do this work at Horizon as well—to think, 'Well, okay, construction is a big piece of work, lots of people, but it's for a defined period—quite a long period, but still a defined period—and once it's over, it sort of goes.' What legacy does that actually leave for the community? That's the question. But, actually, the legacy that is left is jobs for 60 years that have to be embedded in the community, because a lot of these jobs will be on shift, so they can't be the other end of the country. They've got to be local. 

And, so, if you look at the legacy from a broad perspective, over the lifetime of the project, that becomes one of the key aspects. And likewise, the supply chain that's supporting the maintenance and the operations and the servicing, and all that kind of stuff. So, when we have this discussion, it's helpful to think about the thing in those two groups, really.

So, to your point, I think that the real benefit locally comes from the operational phase, because that's what's sustained, that's what you can then build up other businesses on the back of, whether it's fish and chip shops or whatever. There's a sort of bedrock of economic activity that can spur other growth opportunities.

I think that's a fair way of looking at it as well, because, as you've already said, the construction period is a set period, isn't it? Once you've completed the project, construction is no longer needed, unless, of course, you're developing more on top. But, thank you very much. 

Nôl atoch chi, Gadeirydd. 

Back to you, Chair. 

Thank you, Chair. So, moving to skills, how challenging are the current skills shortages in the nuclear sector, and what action do you think needs to be taken by Welsh Government to address this?

So, I sit on the cross-Government nuclear skills taskforce that was set up a few months ago because of the scale of the issue. And, again, in terms of context, this is not just a civil nuclear issue; it is a civil and defence issue, because the defence programme is growing so rapidly, and also because many of the skills—probably up to 80 per cent of the skills that we'll need in the build phase—are not nuclear skills, you're competing with other infrastructure programmes. So, the numbers that we're talking about requiring for the sector—and by 'the sector' I mean defence and civil—are breathtaking. And, over the next 15 years, numbers vary from an extra 150,000 to 250,000, maybe up to 40,000 new engineers in the next five years. So, the numbers are enormous.

So, let me talk about what the UK Government is going to be doing—and we're not ready to publish our report yet—and then we can talk about the Welsh Government in a second. The main areas that we're focused on are PhDs, graduates and apprentices, and there's going to have to be substantial investment to grow the capability across the UK in all three of those areas to probably double, if not treble, the number of PhDs and graduates particularly, and at least double the number of apprentices that we need to be developed. So, that's a huge opportunity for the education establishments in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, and then where we might place the apprenticeship schools. So, anything we can do to encourage the universities to take on more graduate places, and for the Welsh Government and the UK Government to fund that—and that will come as part of our report—will be really important.

The second element of it is regional. So, if you look at the region, Wales—. I would not really consider, from a skills perspective, Wales as being one region; it's really split into two, with south Wales being very much part of a south-west cluster, and north Wales being very much part of a north-west cluster, both of which are prime areas for development. And the opportunities that exist to—. You may well be aware that Rolls-Royce submarines are in conversations with Cardiff Council and Cardiff University about setting up a hub, so that we can bring the engineering to the people as opposed to shifting them—. So, leave them where they live, and love living, and have grown up, and bring the engineering to them, and anything we can do to encourage the council, the universities, to grow that capability and create a hub of excellence and a hub of capability in the engineering sense would be really important and very, very helpful.

The second side of it is then to work with what we're going to set up as a regional hub of, 'So, how do we get after the skills piece together?' So, the key change is going to have to be very, very collaborative as opposed to people working in silos, and there will be a charter that will come out as part of the nuclear skills taskforce that people sign up to to work together, and what I would do is encourage Welsh companies, Welsh education departments, and the Government, to absolutely embrace that and be part of it. So, it is a very big challenge that we've got on our hands, but we will not solve this by working in opposition to each other; it's got to be a very collaborative effort across the whole of the sector.

10:45

Just to add from a more local perspective, if you go back to the Horizon days, we proved it was possible to do it. The local colleges were there, they geared themselves up to take students for apprenticeships, and that was very successful, and a number of them are now working, actually on Hinkley Point and other projects. So, we know it can be done. I think that what we need is—well, what they need, rather—is certainty far enough in advance in order to be able to set up the programmes and scale up the programmes, and hire the students. And, clearly, that's back to Simon's point earlier about having sight of the programme longer term. And then a commitment—probably a fairly early commitment—to actually develop those opportunities. We have the experience; we've got evidence that it can be done. It's a huge opportunity, but as we scale up the programme, it's much bigger, obviously, than a single project, and that needs to be taken into account.

Yes. Just very quickly, very short and sharp: do Alan and Simon have any comments about the impact of the apprenticeship levy on the ability to develop skills, because obviously it applies differently in Wales than it does in England?

Not part of my knowledge bank, I'm afraid, so, no, I don't have a comment on it.

No. We'd have to come back to you on that. I can't comment on that, sorry. 

That's fine. It does add a level of difficulty, but perhaps it would be worth you having a look into that.

10:50

Thank you. And one final question from me, then. I'm wondering to what extent it's possible to deliver SMRs alongside the large-scale reactors, given those current skills shortages that we've been discussing, and whether different skills are needed for the SMR project.

I think you point to a real challenge. The numbers that I talked about do include developing Hinkley and Sizewell alongside one, two or three SMR programmes. The big difference with SMRs is that you can—in concept, yet to be proven—do an awful lot more of it away from sites. So, one of the big differences is that you would argue that it's somewhere between 60 and 70 per cent on site for the gigawatt scale, whereas it's probably 60 to 70 to 80 per cent off site, depending on the design for SMRs. The big advantage that gives you, if we can make this happen, is that you can locate the manufacturing facilities in a completely different place. So, there's a big opportunity for Wales, for example: why wouldn't Wales have one of the SMR factories, where you do either the manufacturing or the assembly? So, the big advantage of that, of course, is, regionally, you don't have a concentration of skills that you've got to have in one area; you can spread it across the country, so it's more deliverable.

To your point about can you do SMRs and gigawatts together, I think doing them on one site together becomes very challenging, but, again, the benefit of having a programme is that as long as you phase it, then I think you can make it work. But if you try and do them all at once, together, and you were trying to do all of the stuff that we're trying to do in defence between the AUKUS programme, the developments in Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, and in Devonport dockyard and in Scotland, you put all of that lot together and that's a very, very big challenge. So, the programmatic approach, I think, is the key to all of this.

Let me just bring you more locally. If you're looking at that—to Simon's last point—if you're looking at Traws and Wylfa at the same time, it's a big impact on the north Wales region, and the ability to be able to support that would be very challenging, in my view. Probably not really feasible.

Thank you, Vikki. Are there any other questions at all? No. Our session has therefore come to an end. Thank you, both, for being with us today. Your evidence will be very useful in our one-day inquiry. A copy of today's transcript will be sent to you in due course, so if there are any issues with that, then please let us know, but once again, thank you for being with us this morning. We'll now take a break to prepare for the next session.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:52 ac 11:05.

The meeting adjourned between 10:52 and 11:05.

11:05
5. Ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru: Safbwynt Awdurdod Lleol
5. Nuclear energy and the Welsh economy: Local Authority view

Croeso nôl i gyfarfod o Bwyllgor yr Economi, Masnach a Materion Gwledig. Symudwn ni ymlaen nawr i eitem 5. Dyma drydedd sesiwn banel ein hymchwiliad undydd i ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru, lle rŷm ni'n holi barn awdurdodau lleol ar ddatblygiadau yng Nghymru. A gaf i groesawu'r tystion i'r sesiwn yma, a chyn ein bod ni yn symud yn syth i gwestiynau, a gaf i ofyn iddyn nhw gyflwyno eu hunain i'r record, ac a gaf i ddechrau, efallai, gydag Alwen Williams? 

Welcome back to this meeting of the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee. We'll move on now to item 5. This is the third panel session of our one-day inquiry into nuclear energy and the Welsh economy, where we are seeking the views of local authorities on developments in Wales. Could I welcome the witnesses to this session, and before we move on to questions, could I ask the witnesses to introduce themselves for the record, and I'll start, perhaps, with Alwen Williams? 

Bore da. Alwen Williams, cyfarwyddwr portffolio, Uchelgais Gogledd Cymru.

Good morning. I'm Alwen Williams. I'm portfolio director for Ambition North Wales. 

Bore da. Llinos Medi, arweinydd cyngor Ynys Môn, a'r arweinydd â chyfrifoldeb dros gynlluniau ynni i'r bwrdd uchelgais. Diolch.  

Good morning. I'm Llinos Medi. I'm leader of Anglesey county council, and the leader with responsibility for energy plans for the ambition board. Thank you.

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am y cyflwyniadau yna. Diolch i chi am fod gyda ni y bore yma. Efallai y gallaf i ddechrau wrth ofyn rhai cwestiynau. Pa effaith mae'r ansicrwydd parhaus ynghylch niwclear newydd yn Wylfa yn ei chael ar eich sefydliadau chi? I ba raddau y mae perygl bod gobeithion yn cael eu codi unwaith eto ar yr ynys? Llinos, liciech chi fynd yn gyntaf? 

Thank you for those introductions, and thank you for joining us this morning. Maybe I will start by asking some questions. What impact is the continued uncertainty regarding new nuclear at Wylfa having on your organisations? To what extent is there a danger that hopes are being raised once again on the island? Llinos, would you like to start? 

Iawn, a diolch am y cwestiwn achos mae o'n gwestiwn ofnadwy o bwysig. Ar hyn o bryd, mae rheoli'r disgwyliadau yn rhywbeth ofnadwy o bwysig. Mae'n ardal sydd wedi cael ei brifo sawl gwaith gan gynnig gobeithion, a'r rheini'n cael eu tynnu oddi arnom ni. A hefyd, o ran blaengynllunio fel awdurdod, mi oeddem ni'n ffodus iawn o fod wedi magu lot o ddealltwriaeth a sgiliau, efo staff lleol y cyngor yn gallu dylanwadu a chyfrannu'n gryf iawn er budd y gymuned yma, yr awdurdod a Chymru gyfan. Rydym ni wedi bod yn andros o ffodus ein bod ni wedi medru ail-leoli'r staff yna mewn swyddi eraill yn yr awdurdod er mwyn dal ar yr arbenigedd yna, ond mae'r ansicrwydd yn creu pryder mawr, a hefyd yn creu—. Fedraf i ddim rhoi digon o bwyslais ar reoli disgwyliadau. Mi oedd cyfnod y newyddion trychinebus gawsom ni pan ddaeth Horizon i ben—. Mi oedd mynd a chyfarfod y bobl ifanc—a ddim jest y bobl ifanc ond pawb oedd yn cael eu heffeithio—. Mi oedd yna gwmnïau lleol wedi buddsoddi yr adeg yna, yn barod i dyfu eu busnesau i ymateb i'r angen a'r posibiliadau o ddatblygiad. Roedden nhw'n colli allan yn ariannol, a hefyd mi oedd y bobl ifanc yma oedd yn meddwl bod ganddyn nhw yrfa oes yma yn Ynys Môn yn gorfod ailedrych ar eu gyrfaoedd nhw a lle roedden nhw am fyw a magu teulu i'r dyfodol.

Felly, mae o'n hynod, hynod o bwysig bod y drafodaeth yn un aeddfed, ac mae yna fwy o gymhlethdod rŵan nag erioed oherwydd y drafodaeth ynglŷn â pha fath o ddatblygiad hefyd fydd yn dod i'r Wylfa, os o gwbl, a beth fydd bendithion y datblygiadau yna os down nhw hefyd. 

Yes, and thank you for the question because it is a very important question. At present, managing expectations is very important, and it is an area that has been hurt several times by hopes being raised and then being dashed. And also, in terms of forward planning as an authority, we were very fortunate to be able to develop a great deal of skills and expertise, with local staff at the council being able to influence and contribute a great deal for the benefit of this community, for the authority and for the whole of Wales. We've been very fortunate that we've been able to relocate those staff in other posts in the authority to retain that expertise, but the uncertainty does create a great deal of concern. I can't place enough emphasis on managing expectations. The disastrous news that we received when Horizon came to an end—. Attending a meeting with young people—and not just young people, but everyone who was impacted—. There were local companies that had invested at that time, ready to grow their businesses to respond to the demand and the possibility of development. They lost out financially, and also the young people who'd thought that they had a career for life here on Ynys Môn were having to look again at their career plans and where they were going to live and raise a family in the future.

So, it's so important that this discussion is a mature one, and there is more complexity now than ever before because there is discussion in terms of what kind of development will come to Wylfa, if at all, and what the benefits of that development will be, if it comes.  

Dim ond i gytuno efo beth mae Llinos wedi dweud, ond hefyd i gydnabod pwysigrwydd datblygiad ynni niwclear ar Ynys Môn, a hefyd yng Ngwynedd yn Nhrawsfynydd, i'r rhanbarth yn y gogledd yn ei gyfanrwydd. Mae gogledd Cymru efo cefndir sylweddol yn y sector niwclear ac wedi cyflogi ac yn dal i gyflogi gweithwyr a theuluoedd drwy'r swyddi sydd wedi cael eu cynnal drwy'r sector dros y blynyddoedd. Mae angen edrych tuag at y dyfodol a sut i barhau i greu y sicrwydd yna. A dwi'n meddwl bod y cyfnod rydym ni ynddo, lle mae yna ansicrwydd o ran ble a sut fydd datblygiad y sector niwclear yn mynd, yn creu sefyllfa eithaf ansefydlog. Ac i ni, o ran y buddsoddiad sydd wedi cael ei glustnodi ar gyfer y cynllun twf ac i'w anelu tuag at ddatblygiad Trawsfynydd, mae yna linell amser eithaf pwysig o ran cael penderfyniadau a chael sicrwydd gan y Llywodraeth ar ba dechnolegau fydd yn cael eu cyfeirio at le, a phryd, er mwyn gwneud y mwyaf o'r cyfalaf sydd wedi cael ei glustnodi fel rhan o'r cynllun twf.

I just want to agree with what Llinos has said, but also to recognise the importance of nuclear energy development on Anglesey, and also in Gwynedd in Trawsfynydd, for the north Wales region in its entirety. North Wales has a significant background in the nuclear sector, and has employed and continues to employ workers and families through the jobs that have been maintained through the sector over the years. We need to look to the future and consider how to maintain that certainty. And I think that the period we're in, where there is uncertainty in terms of how the development of the nuclear sector will proceed, is creating a quite unstable situation. In terms of the investment that has been earmarked for the growth plan and the development of Trawsfynydd, there is quite an important timeline in terms of getting decisions and having certainty from the Government on what technologies will be directed towards which site, and when, in order to make the best of the capital that has been earmarked as part of the growth plan.

11:10

Ydych chi'n meddwl y bydd rhanddeiliaid allweddol o ran swyddi, sgiliau a chadwyni cyflenwi yn barod i symud unwaith y ceir ymrwymiad cadarn y bydd y project yn dod i ogledd Cymru?

And do you think that key stakeholders, in terms of jobs, skills and supply chains, will be ready to mobilise once there is a firm commitment that the project will be coming to north Wales?

Ydych chi eisiau i mi gychwyn?

Do you want me to start?

Beth mae Alwen newydd ddweud ydy bod y fath o dechnoleg yn hanfodol bwysig, achos rydyn ni'n edrych ar, efallai, ddau fath o ddatblygiad tra gwahanol, a bydd yr anghenion yn wahanol. Felly, cynhara'n byd bod yna sicrwydd bod y datblygiad yn dod, a pha fath o ddatblygiad, gallwn ni yna gynnal y trafodaethau ar yr anghenion fydd gan bwy bynnag fydd yn datblygu hynny. Mae gennym ni'r fath fân ddealltwriaeth ar ôl y profiad rydyn ni wedi'i gael efo Horizon. Mae gennym ni'r ddealltwriaeth yna sy'n bodoli yn barod, ac mae gennym ni'r mecanwaith yn ei le oherwydd hynny—ein cysylltiadau ni gyda cholegau lleol, prifysgolion lleol a sgiliau gogledd Cymru. Mae gennym ni'r mecanwaith mewn lle.

Beth dydyn ni ddim yn saff ohoni ar hyn o bryd ydy amserlen o orfod rhoi hyn ar waith, mewn ffordd. Dyna ydy'r her i ni ar hyn o bryd. Dwi'n llwyr gredu y gallwn ni wneud o, ond mae'n rhaid i hwnnw fod yn rhan o ystyriaethau'r Llywodraeth pan fyddan nhw'n dod i benderfyniad ar ba fath o ddatblygiad fydd yma yn Ynys Môn, a bydd yn rhaid iddo fo fod yn rhan o'u hamserlen nhw—sut ydyn ni wedyn yn cael y wybodaeth, beth ydy'r anghenion, a sut wedyn ydyn ni'n gallu rhoi'r hyfforddiant.

Hefyd, beth sy'n bwysig rŵan ydy ailgodi'r hyder ymysg ein pobl ifanc ni ei fod o'n ddiwydiant sydd â diogelwch iddyn nhw. Fel oeddwn i'n nodi ar y cychwyn, mae yna lot o bobl ifanc wedi mynd mewn i'r maes yma, (1), oherwydd bod ganddyn nhw ddiddordeb, ond (2), oherwydd ei fod o'n rhoi sicrwydd iddyn nhw gael bywyd yma yn Ynys Môn. Mae'n bosib y bydd ein pobl ifanc ni, efallai, ychydig bach yn fwy nerfus i'w wneud o dro nesaf, felly bydd honno'n her wahanol i ni, ond mae gennym ni berthynas dda efo'r coleg yn lleol a'r brifysgol. 

Ac mae'r supply chain, hefyd—rydyn ni angen gwybod beth fydd union anghenion unrhyw ddatblygwr gan y supply chain yna, a sut fedrwn ni wedyn ei gychwyn o. Ac mi fydd angen cefnogaeth y Llywodraeth i wneud hynny. Mae yna bosibilrwydd yn fanna i greu ardal o arbenigedd a fuasai'n gallu wedyn mynd ymlaen a chefnogi datblygiadau eraill ledled Prydain, os ydyn ni'n ei wneud o'n gywir.

What Alwen has just said is that the kind of technology is very important, because we're looking at two kinds of very different development, and the needs will be different. So, the sooner we have certainty regarding the development and the kind of development we'll have, we can then discuss the needs that developer will have. We have such a detailed understanding of the situation after our experience with Horizon. We have understanding and knowledge there, and we have a mechanism in place because of that—our links with local colleges, universities and skills in north Wales. We have the mechanism in place.

What we don't have certainty of at the moment is the timetable for implementing that and mobilising it. That's the challenge at the moment. I firmly believe we can do it, but that has to be part of the consideration of Government when it comes to a decision on what kind of development will take place on Ynys Môn, and it will have to be part of their timescales in terms of how we get the information, what the needs are, and how, then, we can provide the training.

Also, what's important now is to engender that confidence again amongst our young people that it's a secure industry for them. As I said at the beginning, many people have gone into this field, (1), because they had interest in it, and (2), because it provided security for them through the jobs on Ynys Môn. Perhaps our young people would be a little bit more nervous about entering this industry now, so that would be another challenge for us, but we do have good relationships with the local college and the university.

And there's the supply chain, too—we will need to know what the needs of any developer will be with regard to the supply chain, and how we can then initiate that. We'll need Government support to do that work. There's a possibility there of creating an area of expertise that could then continue and support other developments across the UK, if we do it right.

Ie, unwaith eto, jest i atgyfnerthu beth mae Llinos wedi dweud yn barod, dwi'n meddwl ei fod o'n bwysig ein bod ni'n gallu—. Mae'r gair 'sicrwydd' yn dod yn ôl mewn i'r achos yma, a hefyd hefo'r elfen sgiliau. Os ydyn ni'n mynd i fedru cael trafodaethau cadarn efo'n darparwyr o ran pa sgiliau mae angen iddyn nhw fuddsoddi ynddyn nhw o fewn eu sefydliadau eu hunain, yna rydyn ni angen y sicrwydd yna er mwyn iddyn nhw ddatblygu'r cyrsiau penodol sydd eu hangen ar gyfer datblygiad yn ddigon cynnar o'r sgiliau yna fydd angen eu darparu ar gyfer y sector. 

Gwnes i gael y fraint o siarad a chyfarfod efo pobl ifanc a gafodd eu dewis i fod yn rhan o'r cynllun sgiliau ar gyfer datblygiad Wylfa, ac roedd o'n eithaf torcalonnus, i fod yn onest, i siarad efo nhw a chlywed sut mae datblygiad eu gyrfaoedd nhw wedyn wedi mynd tu hwnt i Gymru. Mae'r rhain yn siaradwyr Cymraeg fuasai'n hoffi dod yn ôl i ogledd Cymru, ond mae ardaloedd eraill a datblygiadau ar hyd a lled Prydain rŵan yn manteisio ar y ffaith bod y sgiliau yna ar gael ganddyn nhw. Ond rydyn ni, wrth gwrs, ar ein colled gyda'r bobl ifanc yma allan o'n cymunedau, lle mae'n heriol beth bynnag i gadw pobl ifanc mewn ardaloedd megis Ynys Môn ac ardaloedd gwledig yng Ngwynedd. 

Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod angen i ni gyfleu gobaith. Ond dwi'n meddwl, jest i fynd yn ôl at beth ddywedodd Llinos, fod angen i'r gobaith yna gael ei sylfaenu efo sicrwydd gan y Llywodraethau.

Yes, once again, just to echo what Llinos said there, it's important that the word 'certainty' comes into this as well, and also as regards the skills element. If we're going to have robust conversations with our providers in terms of the skills that they need to invest in within their organisations, then we need that certainty for them to be able to develop those specific courses that are needed in order to develop sufficiently early the skills that will need to be provided for the sector.

I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with young people who were chosen to be part of the skills plan, or the skills scene, for the Wylfa development, and it was quite heartbreaking, to be honest, to speak to them and hear how their career development has taken them out of Wales. These are Welsh speakers who would like to return to north Wales, but other developments across Britain are taking advantage of those skills that they have. But we are missing out in terms of those young people who are moving out of our communities, where it is already challenging to keep those young people in areas such as Ynys Môn and rural areas of Gwynedd. 

So, I do think that we need to project hope. But, just to return to what Llinos said, that hope needs to be based on certainty from the Governments.

Diolch. Dwi'n mynd i ofyn nawr i Sam Kurtz ofyn rhai cwestiynau. Sam.

Thank you. I'm now going to ask Sam Kurtz to ask some questions.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Diolch i chi'ch dwy am ymuno y bore yma gyda ni. Ynglŷn â'r trafodaethau rŷch chi'n eu cael gyda'r Llywodraethau, beth maen nhw fel ar y funud? Ydyn nhw'n bositif ynglŷn â datblygiadau niwclear yn Wylfa neu Drawsfynydd? Llinos.

Thank you. Thank you, both, for joining us this morning. With regard to the conversations that you're having with the Government, what is the nature of those conversations? Are they positive in terms of nuclear development in Wylfa or Trawsfynydd? Llinos.

Wel, mae Wylfa wedi'i adnabod, ers i mi fod yn arweinydd, fel un o'r safleoedd gorau—wel, y safle gorau—o ran datblygu. Felly, mae Wylfa yn dal yn rhan o'r trafodaethau yma, ac mae ein trafodaethau ni'n parhau ar hyrwyddo'r safle a sicrhau bod y safle yn cael ei adnabod mewn unrhyw gynllun Prydeinig. Yn yr un modd, mae Traws wedi cael ei adnabod fel safle sydd â chryfderau o gwmpas small modular reactors hefyd. Felly, mae hwnnw'n parhau, ac mae ymrwymiad Llywodraeth Cymru i sefydlu Cwmni Egino ac yn y blaen wedi creu sicrwydd o gwmpas y safle yna.

Yr her fawr, dwi'n meddwl, sydd gennym ni o ran safle'r Wylfa ydy ein bod ni'n dal i ddod i sefyllfa lle rydyn ni'n gallu gweld gwir benderfyniad, ac wedyn, o'r penderfyniad yna, fod yna wir awydd i'w ddatblygu. Rydyn ni'n dal yn y trafodaethau yna. Mae sefydlu Great British Nuclear wedi bod yn gam positif yn ei flaen, ond rydyn ni'n dal i edrych, yn enwedig ar bolisi ar raddfeydd mawr gigawatts, rydyn ni'n dal i edrych ar arweiniad o ran hynny. Felly, buaswn i'n dweud bod y trafodaethau yn parhau, ond dwi'n rhwystredig iawn oherwydd mae o'n bechod nad oedd yna benderfyniad yn ôl yn 2019, oherwydd mi fuasem ni ar hyn o bryd yn anterth y datblygiad ac yn rhoi'r sicrwydd ynni rydyn ni i gyd yn dyheu ei gael hefyd.

Well, Wylfa has been identified, since I have been leader, as one of the best sites—well, the best site—for development. So, Wylfa continues to be a part of the discussions, and our discussions are ongoing as to promoting the site and ensuring that the site is identified in any UK-wide scheme. By the same token, Trawsfynydd has been identified as a site that has strengths in terms of SMRs. So, that continues, and the Welsh Government's commitment to establishing Cwmni Egino and so on has provided certainty around that particular site, too.

The major challenge that I think we have in terms of Wylfa as a site is that we're still trying to get to a point where we can see a decision on that, and, then, after that decision being made, that there is a genuine desire to develop that. We're still in those discussions and conversations. The establishment of Great British Nuclear has been a positive step forward, but we're still looking, particularly as regards the policy on gigawatt scale, for leadership and guidance on that. So, I would say that the conversations are ongoing, but I feel very frustrated, because it is a shame that a decision wasn't made back in 2019 as we would now be at the height of development and providing that energy security we all want to see.

11:15

Ie. Efallai jest i ganolbwyntio ychydig bach mwy ar Drawsfynydd a datblygiad Trawsfynydd, rydyn ni, fel cynllun twf, a fy nhîm i, mewn trafodaethau rheolaidd efo Cwmni Egino, sef y cwmni datblygu ar ran Llywodraeth Cymru ynglŷn â datblygiad Trawsfynydd. Mae'r prosiect angen, o beth rydyn ni'n gwybod ar hyn o bryd, £250 miliwn i ddatblygu'r prosiect i fedru cael penderfyniad buddsoddiad. Mae yna £20 miliwn o'r cynllun twf wedi'i glustnodi. Y pwynt rydyn ni arno fo ar hyn o bryd ydy trio cael digon o ddealltwriaeth o ba dechnolegau fydd yn cael eu cyfeirio, ac i le a phryd, i fedru gwneud penderfyniad heb oedi ymhellach ar sut i gyfeirio'r £20 miliwn sydd wedi'i glustnodi o'r cynllun twf—gan ein bod ni'n gwybod bod costau'n codi, gan ein bod ni'n gwybod bod gwir werth cyfalaf y cynllun twf, bob blwyddyn sydd yn pasio, yn lleihau, a bod impact yr arian a'r buddsoddiad yna'n mynd yn llai ac yn llai po fwyaf o amser sy'n pasio.

Jest i gau ar bwynt am ogledd Cymru fel rhanbarth, mae yna gefndir ac mae yna dystiolaeth gref bod yna le i'r ddau ddatblygiad. Mae gennym ni'r sgiliau, mae gennym ni'r ddealltwriaeth o'r sector, a dwi wir yn credu, yn edrych tuag at y dyfodol, fod angen datblygiad Wylfa a Traws.

Yes. Just to focus a little bit more on Trawsfynydd and that development, we, as a growth plan, and my team, are in regular discussions with Cwmni Egino, which is the development company for the Welsh Government, about the Trawsfynydd development. The project needs, from what we know at present, £250 million to develop the project to have an investment decision. A total of £20 million from the growth plan has been earmarked for that. The point that we're at at the moment is trying to have enough understanding of which technologies will be directed to where and when in order to be able to make a decision without further delay on how to direct that £20 million earmarked from the growth plan—because we know that costs are rising and because the true value of the capital from the growth plan is reducing every year, and the impact of that investment is reducing as well as time passes.

Just to close on a point about north Wales's status as a region, there is history and background, and there's strong evidence that there is scope for the two developments. We have the skills, we have the understanding of the sector and I truly believe that, looking to the future, we need to develop Wylfa and Traws.

Diolch. Yn eich barn chi, wedyn, beth yn ychwanegol gellid ei wneud gan y Llywodraeth yma ym Mae Caerdydd neu yn San Steffan i helpu gyda'r prosiectau yn Nhrawsfynydd a Wylfa? Alwen.

Thank you. And in your view, what additionally can be done by the Government here in Cardiff Bay or in Westminster to assist with the projects in Trawsfynydd and Wylfa? Alwen.

Dwi'n meddwl mai un o'r pethau mwyaf penodol ydy cadw'r drafodaeth yn fyw. Mae angen cyrraedd y pwynt, i fi yn bersonol, o ran gallu gwneud penderfyniad ar ddatblygiad Traws, ac mae angen inni gael y sicrwydd bod y Llywodraethau yn trafod efo'i gilydd a bod yr elfen yna o gydweithredu. Wrth gwrs, mae'r cynllun twf yn cynnwys arian cyfalaf gan y ddwy Lywodraeth, ac felly, i ni, mae'n bwysig ein bod ni'n gweld bod yna gydweithredu rhwng y ddwy Lywodraeth i ddod i benderfyniad sydd yn ein galluogi ni wedyn, o'm safbwynt i, i fynd yn ein blaenau efo Cwmni Egino i ddod i benderfyniad sydd yn rhoi eglurder ar le mae cyfalaf y cynllun twf yn mynd i fedru cael ei gyfeirio. A'r pethau penodol mae'r cynllun twf yn gorfod cyflawni ydy creu swyddi newydd, ac rydyn ni'n gwybod o'r dystiolaeth gan Gwmni Egino fod hyd at 400 o swyddi newydd yn y fantol ond yn medru cael eu creu drwy ddatblygiad Trawsfynydd. Mae swm o 400 o swyddi parhaol yn enfawr mewn ardal megis Trawsfynydd, ac, mewn gwirionedd, yng ngogledd Cymru, mae hynny'n swm sylweddol o swyddi. Felly, mae hyn, i fi—ac i ddod yn ôl at y cwestiwn—am weld y cydweithrediad yna a chael deialog agored a rheolaidd ynglŷn â sut mae'r penderfyniadau'n mynd i gael eu gwneud a phryd.

I think that one of the most specific things is to keep the discussions alive. We need to reach a point, from my perspective, where a decision on the development of Traws can be made, and we need to have the certainty that the Governments are discussing this together and that that element of co-operation exists. Of course, the growth plan does include capital funding from both Governments, and so, for us, it's important that we do see that there is co-operation between the two Governments to come to a decision that allows us, then, from our perspective, to proceed with Cwmni Egino to come to a decision that provides clarity on where the growth plan capital can be directed. And the specific things that the growth plan has to deliver is to create new jobs, and we know from the evidence from Cwmni Egino that up to 400 new jobs are at stake and could be created through the Trawsfynydd development. Having 400 permanent jobs is huge in an area such as Trawsfynydd, and, in fact, it's a significant amount of jobs in north Wales as a whole. So, for me—and to return to the question—it's about seeing that co-operation and having open dialogue and regular dialogue on how these decisions are going to be made and when.

Ocê, diolch. Llinos, unrhyw beth i'w ychwanegu?

Okay, thank you. Llinos, do you have anything to add?

Oes, yn ychwanegol, dwi'n meddwl bod yna ychydig o bethau. O ran y Llywodraeth ym Mhrydain, dwi'n meddwl mai beth rydyn ni eisiau ydy amserlen bendant o ran, yn enwedig yma ym Môn, yr SMRs a'r gigawatts mwy, fel bod gennym ni drafodaeth aeddfed am beth fydd y datblygiad o bosibl yn Ynys Môn, a'n bod ni'n cael trafodaeth ynglŷn â gwneud y defnydd gorau o'r safle ac uchafu'r safle o ran yr economi a chynhyrchu ynni, ac wedyn efo Llywodraeth Cymru, fel roedd Alwen yn dweud, efo Egino wedi'i sefydlu, a thrafodaeth wedyn ynglŷn â sut rydym ni yn 'pump-prime-io' yr ochr sgiliau a'r supply chain.

Yr her ar hyn o bryd ydy nad oes gennym ni amserlen bendant i beth fydd ar y safle yma yn Wylfa. Felly, dwi'n meddwl mai hwnna fuasai'r peth mwyaf buasem ni'n leicio yma, jest i roi'r sicrwydd yna fel ein bod ni'n gwybod, ac efallai wedyn cael y drafodaeth efo'r gymuned hefyd. Mae'r gymuned yn allweddol yn y fan yma. Mae cefnogaeth y gymuned wedi bod yn ffactor o gryfder yn safle Wylfa Newydd, ac mae o'n deg i'r gymuned, achos ar hyn o bryd maen nhw jest yn cael rhyw benawdau ac ambell i beth yn cael ei ddweud, ond does yna ddim sicrwydd. Ac rydyn ni angen y drafodaeth am beth fydd orau i'r gymuned pa bynnag ddatblygiad ddigwyddith yma. Gobeithio bod hynna'n ateb y cwestiwn i chi.

Yes, I would add a few things. In terms of the UK Government, what we need is a specific time frame, particularly here in Môn, in terms of the small modular reactors and the large gigawatt project, so we can have a mature discussion about what the development potentially will be on Ynys Môn, and that we have a discussion about making the best use of the site and upgrading the site in terms of the economy and energy generation, and, then, with the Welsh Government, with Egino having been established, and a discussion about how we pump-prime the skills side and the supply chain.

The challenge is that we don't have that specific time frame in terms of what will be on the site here in Wylfa. So, I think that would be the biggest thing that we would like to see here, just to provide that certainty, and then we can have a discussion with the community as well, because the community is vitally important here. The support of the community has been a factor of strength in the Wylfa Newydd site, and it would be fair to the community, because at the moment they just have some headlines and they see some very high-level things being said, but they need that certainty. We need that discussion about what would be best for the community whatever development happens here. I hope that answers your question. 

11:20

Ydy, mae e. Diolch, Llinos. Diolch, Cadeirydd. 

Yes, it does. Thank you, Llinos. Thank you, Chair. 

Diolch. The Planning Inspectorate’s report on Horizon’s Wylfa Newydd development concluded that the project would place additional pressure on accommodation during the construction period, which could adversely affect tourism, the local economy and the Welsh language. What are your views on this, and what actions can be taken to mitigate those issues? 

I ddechrau, buaswn i'n dweud fod y canlyniad yna wedi newid yn gyfan gwbl, ac efallai bod y sefyllfa yn anoddach rŵan o ran tai a lletya ac yn y blaen, oherwydd bod y sefyllfa dai wedi newid. Ac mi fuaswn i'n erfyn ar unrhyw ddatblygiad o'r newydd fod yn rhaid cychwyn o'r newydd pan mae'n dod i faterion fel hyn, oherwydd rydyn ni wedi gweld newid mawr mewn anghenion tai yma yn ystod y ddwy neu dair blynedd diwethaf.

Ble oeddem ni yn ffodus iawn yn ystod y cyfnod efo Horizon oedd bod yna drafodaethau aeddfed rhyngom ni fel awdurdod â nhw fel cwmni, ac roedden ni'n gallu tystiolaethu'r heriau roedden ni yn rhagweld, ac, wedyn, roedden ni'n gallu eistedd efo'r cwmni a rhoi camau lliniaru i mewn, ac wedyn rhoi cost wrth ochr rheini. Ac fel rhan o hynny roedd yna negydu ar y cytundeb 106 oedd yn mynd i'n helpu ni liniaru'r sgileffeithiau negyddol yna. Mae o'n hanfodol bwysig, beth bynnag sy'n digwydd yma, bod hynny'n parhau. Mae angen sicrhau bod y ddealltwriaeth leol yma yn rhan o'r trafodaethau, a bod beth sy'n bosib i liniaru yn cael ei adnabod ar y cyd a bod wedyn unrhyw ddatblygwr yn gorfod ariannu'r effeithiau negyddol yna. Achos rydyn ni wedi trafod yr effeithiau positif, o ran swyddi a sgiliau yn barod, ond mae'n rhaid inni fod yn onest iawn efo'n cymunedau ni bod yna effeithiau negyddol, a rhain fydd rhai ohonyn nhw.

Mae'r sector twristiaeth yn sector pwysig iawn yma ym Môn. Mae'n rhaid inni sicrhau bod y sector twristiaeth a denu pobl i'r ynys yn parhau. Mae tai wedi mynd yn fwy o bryder i'n pobl ifanc ni—cael mynediad i dai—felly mae'n rhaid inni wneud yn siwr bod yna gyfleon tai. Ac oherwydd hynny wedyn, mae sut mae rheoli'r gweithlu yn ystod y cyfnod datblygu, sut fyddan nhw a lle fyddan nhw'n byw yn ystod y cyfnod datblygu, yn gorfod cael ei wneud ar sail dealltwriaeth leol. A dyna pam wnes i ddweud ar y cychwyn ein bod ni'n ffodus iawn o fod wedi dal ar y staff oedd yn allweddol yn y trafodaethau rhai blynyddoedd yn ôl. Mae'r ddealltwriaeth yna dal yn bodoli o fewn yr awdurdod, a buasem ni'n gallu 'mobilise-io' hwnna'n ddigon sydyn hefyd, er bod y ffigurau, yn amlwg, wedi newid a'r dystiolaeth wedi newid. 

To begin with, I would say that that result has changed entirely, and that perhaps the situation is more difficult now in terms of housing and accommodation and so on, because the housing situation has changed so much. And I would urge with regard to any development that we need to start again when it comes to consideration of these kind of issues, because we have seen a vast change in terms of housing demand over the past two or three years. 

We were very fortunate during the Horizon phase that we'd had those mature discussions between us as an authority and them as a company, and we were able to point to evidence with regard to the challenges that we'd identified, and we could sit down with the company and put mitigations in place, and we could allocate and assign costs to that. So that was part of the negotiations with the section 106 agreement that would enable us to mitigate those negative impacts. It's vitally important, whatever happens here now, that that work continues. Ensuring that this local knowledge and understanding is part of the discussions is important, and then in terms of what mitigation steps can be taken and what's possible in that regard is very important, so that any developer can fund these mitigation steps in the face of these negative impacts. Because we've talked about the positives, in terms of skills and jobs, but we also have to be very honest with our communities that there could be negative impacts too, and these could be some of them. 

The tourism sector is very important here in Môn. We need to ensure that tourists continue to be attracted to the island. Housing is very important in terms of our young people. So we need to ensure that there are housing opportunities for our young people as well. And how we manage the workforce during the development phase and where they will live, where they'll be accommodated during that development phase, is very important too, and that work has to be done based on local knowledge. So that's why I said at the beginning that we're very fortunate that we've maintained and retained those key staff from those discussions that we had a few years ago. That knowledge and expertise still exists within the authority. We could mobilise that very quickly, even though the figures clearly have changed and the evidence has changed too. 

Does gen i ddim i'w ychwanegu at beth mae Llinos wedi ei ddweud ar hynny. 

I don't have anything to add to what Llinos has said on that. 

Is there any concern that a future development consent order for a project at Wylfa could be rejected? 

Oes, yn amlwg. Dyna pam fod y trafodaethau aeddfed rhwng yr holl randdeiliaid yn ofnadwy o bwysig, achos mae'n well inni ffeindio'r problemau yn gynt, a ffeindio os oes yna ffyrdd o'u cwmpas nhw, ffyrdd o liniaru, neu hyd yn oed newid ambell i ran o'r cynllun er mwyn sicrhau bod y caniatâd yna yn digwydd. Mi oedd y broses tro diwethaf yn broses hir, ond mi gyrhaeddon ni sefyllfa pan aethom ni o flaen yr arolygwyr lle roedden ni i gyd yn medru bod yn gyfforddus ar yr hyn oedd yn cael ei gyflwyno. Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod gennym ni'r aeddfedrwydd yna. Ond mae'n rhaid inni hefyd barchu'r drefn gyfreithiol ar gyfer cynllunio sydd yn ei lle er mwyn sicrhau bod unrhyw ddatblygiad yn ymateb i anghenion lleol. Dyna pam mae'r cynllun ynni lleol yn ei le. Dyna pam mae yna bolisïau cynllunio yn eu lle. Felly, mae'n bwysig iawn ein bod ni'n glynu wrthyn nhw, a'n bod ni'n gwneud y gorau o fewn y grym sydd gennym ni i sicrhau nad yw’r datblygiad yn cael effaith negyddol ac yn cael ei wrthod. Mae hynny’n ofnadwy o bwysig. Ond mae’n rhaid inni ddeall mai negydu ydy hynny, a dod i gytundeb. Mi oeddem ni’n lwcus efo Horizon. Roedden nhw’n parchu’r farn leol honno ac yn addasu wrth fynd ymlaen, pan oedden nhw’n gweld bod yna bryderon yn codi.

Yes, clearly that is a concern. That's why the mature discussions between all stakeholders continues to be very important, because it's better for us to identify these issues sooner rather than later, so that we can find ways of mitigating them or perhaps changing or amending parts of the plan to ensure that that consent is given. The process last time was a very long one, but we did reach a situation, when we came before the inspectors, where we were all comfortable with the way it was being introduced and presented. So, I do think we have that maturity in the discussion. But we need to respect the legal planning process that's in place to ensure that any development that does take place does respond to local need. That's why those local development plans are in place. That's why the planning policies are in place. So, it's important that we adhere to those policies, and that we do the very best with the powers that we have to ensure that the development doesn't have a negative impact, nor is it rejected. That's very important. But we do have to understand that that's part of negotiation and coming to an agreement. We were very lucky with Horizon. They respected that local view, and they adapted and amended as they went forward, when they saw the concerns that arose.  

11:25

Na, rydw i'n meddwl bod Llinos wedi ymateb yn iawn i hwnnw.

No, I think that Llinos has provided an adequate response to that.

Thank you, Chair. Moving on to jobs and skills, first, to what extent could a new project at Wylfa help reverse the trend of working-age people moving away from Anglesey and encourage young people to stay on the island?

Dyna’r rheswm pam rydym ni wedi'i gefnogi fo erioed. Mae’r cyfrifiad diwethaf wedi dangos dirywiad eto yn nifer y bobl ifanc. Mae’r cyfartaledd oedran yn 48 rŵan pan fo cyfartaledd Cymru’n 42. Mae hynny’n enghraifft o’r her rydyn ni’n ei hwynebu. Dyna pam roeddem ni’n gefnogol iawn o’r datblygiad blaenorol. Mae o’n allweddol bwysig inni fedru cael cymdeithas sydd wedi’i chydbwyso o ran oedran ac o ran cyfleoedd.

Hefyd, nid yn unig yr oedran a’r demograffeg, ond rhoi’r cyfleoedd cyllidol, ariannol ac ansawdd byw, sef yr hyn rydyn ni i gyd yn ei ddyheu amdano, a’i gwneud yn gymuned ble mae yna ffyniant. Felly, rydyn ni’n ei weld o fel cynllun sy’n allweddol i sicrhau bod yna gydbwysedd yno o ran yr ynys a’i phoblogaeth.

Ac o ran yr iaith, rydw i’n adnabod nifer o bobl sydd wedi gadael yr ynys efo’r Gymraeg efo nhw. Felly, mae’n ofnadwy o bwysig inni fedru gwneud hynny. Mae’r bobl ifanc yma’n mynd ymlaen i fod yn gynghorwyr cymuned, i fod yn llywodraethwyr yn ein hysgolion ni, ac yn y blaen. Felly, maen nhw’n sail bwysig iawn i bob cymuned sy’n ffynnu. Felly, mae’n ofnadwy o bwysig.

Hefyd, mae hynny wedyn yn cael effaith ar draws y gogledd. Rydyn ni wastad wedi dweud ein bod ni’n gweithio i’r proximity principle yma yn Ynys Môn, sef y syniad o agosatrwydd. Er ein bod ni ar ynys, a bod pobl yn gallu dweud ein bod ni wedi cael ein cau i ffwrdd ar adegau, rydyn ni’n meddwl ei bod yn bwysig hefyd fod y ffyniant yna’n cael ei wasgaru ar draws y rhanbarth.

Mae yna gyfleoedd yn fan hyn i weld ffyniant ar draws y gogledd. Mae Trawsfynydd yn rhan allweddol o hynny hefyd, ac mae’n bosibl inni weld newid economaidd aruthrol yn y gogledd, yn rhoi cyfle i bobl ifanc aros yma, magu eu teuluoedd yma, a chreu’r genhedlaeth nesaf o weithwyr i’r ddau le hefyd.   

It's the reason that we've supported it throughout. The last census shows a great deterioration in the number of young people. The average age is 48 now, when the Welsh average is 42. That's an example of the challenge that we've seen. We were very supportive of the previous development. It's vital for us to be able to have a balanced society in terms of age and in terms of opportunity.

Also not only the age and the demographics, but to provide financial opportunities and quality of life, which is what we all aspire to, to make it a community where there is prosperity. So, we do see it as a scheme that is vital to ensure that there is a balance there in terms of the island and its population.

And in terms of the language, I know many people who have left the island and have taken their Welsh with them. So, it's very important for us to be able to do that. These young people go on to be community councillors and school governors and so forth. So, they are a very important foundation for prosperous communities, and so it's vital for us.

And that then has an effect across north Wales. We always say that we work according to the proximity principle in Ynys Môn. We're on an island, and people can say that we've been closed off at certain times. Well, we think that it's important that that prosperity is spread across the region.

There are opportunities here to see prosperity across north Wales. Trawsfynydd is a key part of that as well, and it's possible for us to see a significant economic change in north Wales, giving young people opportunities to stay here and raise their families here, and create the next generation of workers in both places as well.

Dim ond i gytuno'n llwyr efo beth mae Llinos wedi’i ddweud. Mae’r effaith yn ymestyn ar draws y gogledd. Felly, mae’r gallu i gadw ein pobl ifanc a’n siaradwyr Cymraeg ni, ac i newid y data sy’n dangos bod pobl ifanc yn gadael, dwi’n meddwl, yn wir ar draws y gogledd.

Mae yna ystadegau sy’n dangos—ac o brofiad hefyd, rydw i'n meddwl—fod pobl yn trafaelio ar draws awdurdodau yn y gogledd i’w gwaith. Rydw i’n enghraifft o rywun sy’n trafaelio ar draws y chwe awdurdod yn rheolaidd oherwydd fy ngwaith, a dwi ddim yn meddwl bod hynny’n sefyllfa anghyffredin.

Y risg yw ein bod ni’n colli’r bobl ifanc ar draws y bordor yn y cyfeiriad anghywir. Felly, dwi’n meddwl bod potensial y datblygiadau yn Nhraws ac yn Wylfa yn mynd i'n helpu ni i fedru newid yr ystadegau yna a chadw gobaith a swyddi o werth uchel i genedlaethau’r dyfodol hefyd. 

Only to agree entirely with what Llinos has said. The impact spreads across north Wales. So, the ability to retain our young people and our Welsh speakers, and to change the data that demonstrate that young people are leaving the area, is true for the whole of north Wales.

There are statistics that demonstrate—and, I think, from experience too—that people do travel across authority areas to access work. I'm an example of someone who travels across the six authorities on a regular basis because of my work, and I don't think that that is an uncommon situation.

The risk is that we lose these young people across the border in the wrong direction. So, I think that the potential of the development in Trawsfynydd and Wylfa is going to help us to be able to change that statistic and retain hope and jobs of high value for future generations too.

Thank you. We've heard in other evidence that, perhaps, there is not the greatest awareness of jobs in the nuclear industry among our young people, and I would hope that it might be quite different in Anglesey. So, could you tell us what is being done to encourage young people around Anglesey to pursue a possible career in nuclear energy, and what more needs to be done and by whom?

11:30

Mae hwn yn gwestiwn reit heriol, oherwydd mae ein sefyllfa wedi newid cryn dipyn. Pan oedd Horizon yma, roedd yna ddatblygiad yma ac roedd Horizon yn mynd o gwmpas ysgolion ac yn cynnal digwyddiadau a chodi ymwybyddiaeth o'r posibiliadau, ac roedd diddordeb mawr yn y pynciau STEM, ac yn y blaen. Mi roedd y cwmni ei hun yn cymryd cyfrifoldeb am wneud hynny ar y cyd efo ni fel awdurdod a phartneriaeth sgiliau rhanbarthol gogledd Cymru ac yn y blaen—roeddem ni'n gallu ei hyrwyddo fe fel yna. Beth oedd gennym ni bryd hynny hefyd oedd gweithwyr yn y Wylfa bresennol, felly roedd pobl yn ymwybodol ac yn adnabod pobl a oedd yn gweithio yn Wylfa. Rŵan, mae hynny'n newid, gan fod yna lai a llai o bobl yn gweithio yn Wylfa a dydy pobl ddim yn adnabod gweithwyr yn Wylfa yr un fath.

Felly, ar hyn o bryd, mae o'n sector nad ydy o'n cael ei weld fel lle i fynd i weithio, sydd yn creu ychydig o her i ni, felly bydd angen i ni godi ymwybyddiaeth fwy eto. Ond—dwi'n dweud hyn yn 'ond' mawr—fedrwn ni ddim gadael ein pobl ifanc i lawr eto. Fedraf i ddim eistedd yn y caffi yn Llanfechell, fel pan ddaeth y datganiad eu bod nhw'n dod i ben, yn sbïo ar y bobl ifanc hynny oedd yn sbïo arnaf i a'u llygaid nhw'n loyw a ddim yn gwybod lle roedden nhw'n mynd nesaf. Dyma'r managing expectations yma—mae'n rhaid i ni fod yn ofnadwy o ofalus. Mae'r dyfodol yn dibynnu ar ein harweiniad ni, ac os ydyn ni'n rhoi'r arweiniad anghywir, wedyn rydyn ni'n eu gadael nhw i lawr. Felly, mae'n rhaid i ni fanijo hwn ac mae'n rhaid i ni drafod o'n fwy, achos maen nhw'n sgiliau sydd yn gallu cael eu symud o un peth i'r llall, ac rydyn ni angen siarad am y sgiliau trosglwyddadwy yna—sut ydyn ni, wedyn, yn cael y sgiliau yna a bod o ddim yn un sector, achos rydyn ni yn gweld sector ynni adnewyddol hefyd sydd angen sgiliau tebyg, ac yn y blaen. Felly, rydyn ni, rŵan, angen edrych ar sut rydyn ni'n hyrwyddo cynhyrchu ynni ymysg ein pobl ifanc ni yn fwy na'i wneud o fesul sector, mewn ffordd.

This is a challenging question, because our situation has changed considerably. When Horizon were here, there was a development here and Horizon were going around schools and having events and raising awareness of the possibilities, and there was great interest in the STEM subjects, and so forth. The company itself took responsibility for doing that jointly with us as the authority and the north Wales regional skills partnership and we could promote it in that fashion. What we had at that time as well were workers in Wylfa, so people were aware of and knew people who worked at Wylfa. Now, that has changed, because fewer and fewer people are working at Wylfa and people don't know workers in Wylfa in the same way.

So, at present, it is a sector that isn't seen as a place where you can go and work, which creates a challenge for us, so we will need to raise awareness again. But—I say this as a big 'but'—we can't let our young people down again. I can't sit in a cafe in Llanfechell, like when the statement came that it was coming to an end, looking at those young people with tearful eyes, not knowing where they were going next. This is what I talked about with managing expectations—we have to be very careful. Their future depends on our leadership, and if we give the wrong leadership, then we let them down. So we have to manage this and we have to discuss it more, because these are skills that can be moved from one place to another, and we need to talk about the transferrable skills. We don't need to see this as one sector, because we do see the renewable energy sector as well that needs similar skills. So we now need to look at how we promote the generation of energy among our young people rather than doing it on a sector-by-sector basis.

Dwi'n cytuno. Y pwynt roeddwn i'n mynd i'w wneud oedd y pwynt mai beth mae gogledd Cymru eisiau cael ei adnabod fel yn y dyfodol ydy rhanbarth sydd yn rhoi sylw i ac yn gallu adeiladu arbenigedd yn y sector ynni carbon isel. Felly, os ydych chi'n tynnu'r gair 'niwclear' allan o'r cwestiwn, yna mae'n agor y drws i gymaint fwy o swyddi, sydd yn swyddi gwyrdd, sydd yn anelu tuag at ddyfodol sero net ac yn cyfrannu tuag at hynny, nid yn unig ar gyfer y gogledd, ond yn arwain yn rhyngwladol ar rai o dechnolegau'r dyfodol.

Mae gennym ni ddatblygiadau gwynt, mae gennym ni ddatblygiadau ynni o'r môr, mae gennym ni ddatblygiadau niwclear ac mae gennym ni ddatblygiadau a buddsoddiadau hydrogen, felly mae o'n un elfen o rywbeth sydd yn llawer mwy, sydd yn mynd i gynnig cyflogaeth hirdymor a chyflogaeth gwerth uchel i unigolion a theuluoedd y dyfodol yn y gogledd. Ond mae'n rhaid hefyd cofio bod y maes a'r sgiliau yn gystadleuol ofnadwy; mae yna lot o gystadlu am y sgiliau ar draws gwahanol sectorau STEM a sectorau peirianneg, er enghraifft. Felly, dyna pam ei bod yn hanfodol o ran yr elfen sgiliau yna ein bod ni'n gallu rhoi sicrwydd i'r darparwyr mor fuan â phosib yn union pa fath o sgiliau a pha fath o gyrsiau y dylen nhw eu datblygu er mwyn darparu'r gweithwyr ar gyfer y dyfodol a rhoi'r cynigion gorau i'n pobl leol ni yn y gogledd.

I would agree. The point I was going to make was the point that what north Wales wants to be recognised as in future is as a region that gives due attention to and is able to build expertise in the low-carbon energy sector. So, if you take the word 'nuclear' out of the question, it opens the door to so many other jobs, which are green jobs, that aim towards a net-zero future and contribute towards that goal, not just for the north, but leading the way internationally on some of the future technologies.

We have development in terms of wind energy, we have marine energy developments, we have nuclear developments and we have developments and investments in hydrogen, so it's one element of something that is far larger, that's going to provide long-term employment and high-value employment for individuals and future families in north Wales. But we do have to remember too that the skills and this field are very competitive; there's a great deal of competition for these skills across different sectors in terms of STEM and engineering, and so on. So, that's why it's vital in terms of the skills element that we can provide certainty to the providers as soon as possible with regard to what exact skills and courses they should be developing to provide the employees for the future, and to provide the best offer to our local people in north Wales too.

Thank you. You both talked there about the overlap between the skills needed in the nuclear sector and other energy sectors. For the most part, you seem quite positive about that, but is there an element, as was perhaps brought in in the last contribution, that we could see competition with those other sectors for workers, particularly in the renewable sector? Could that be a problem, and if so, what could be done to overcome that?

Byddai hynny'n gallu bod yn broblem, a dyna pam mae amseru'n bwysig; dyna pam mae amserlennu yn andros o bwysig. Mae Traws a Wylfa yn ddatblygiadau. Mae'r hydrogen, fel roedd Alwen yn cyfeirio ato fo, yno, mae'r ynni môr. Dyna pam mae'n bwysig, a dyna pam fod gennym ni yn Ynys Môn y rhaglen ynys ynni, fel ein bod ni'n edrych ar gynhyrchu ynni'n fwy strategol ac wedi ei gydlynu yn fwy yma ar yr ynys. Felly mae o'n mynd i fod yn her yn bendant; dim ots gen i i ba ardal buasai'r datblygiadau yma i gyd yn mynd, mae o'n mynd i fod yn her. Ond os ydyn ni wedi ein halinio'n barod i fynd, mi allem ni fanteisio ar y cyfleon yma.

Hefyd, beth sydd ddim wedi ei nodi ydy bod gennym ni'r posibilrwydd o ddod â phrofiad yn ôl i'r ardaloedd hefyd. Mae yna bobl wedi gadael yr ardal, ond hefyd mae yna gyfleon rŵan i'r bobl sydd wedi gadael yr ardaloedd yma ddod yn ôl i ogledd Cymru a dod â'u teuluoedd efo nhw hefyd, felly rhaid i ni beidio â meddwl a ffocysu ar mai dim ond pobl ifanc fydd yn dod o'r ysgol ac o'r coleg i lenwi'r swyddi yma; mi fydd yna rai eisiau dod yn ôl i'r ardal, fel oedden nhw'n dyheu 10 mlynedd yn ôl i wneud.

It could be an issue, and that's why timing is so important; that's why having a robust timetable is so important. Trawsfynydd and Wylfa are developments. Hydrogen is there too, as Alwen was referring to, and marine energy is there. That's why it's so important, and that's why we have the energy island scheme on Anglesey, so that we can look at energy production more strategically and in a more co-ordinated way on the island. So, it is going to be a challenge, certainly. No matter what area the developments are located in, it is going to be a challenge. But if we are aligned and ready to go, then we could benefit from these opportunities.

Also, what hasn't been noted is that we have the possibility of bringing experience back to the area too. People have left the island, but there are opportunities here now for those people who have left to come back to north Wales and to bring their families with them as well, so we shouldn't just focus on it being young people leaving schools and colleges who will fill these jobs; other people will want to come back to the area, as they wanted to 10 years ago.

11:35

Mae yna enghreifftiau da iawn o sut rydyn ni'n gallu dod â phobl at ei gilydd i drafod y math yma o beth. Dwi'n meddwl un enghraifft o hynny ydy'r gydnabyddiaeth gan Magnox, er enghraifft, fod y gwaith o ddigomisiynu'r safleoedd yn mynd i olygu cyfleoedd cyflogaeth sylweddol dros y blynyddoedd nesaf, efo Magnox yn rhagweld y byddan nhw yn recriwtio hyd at 500 o bobl ychwanegol i weithio ar hynny. Oherwydd hynny, mae wedi dod â'n partneriaeth sgiliau ni yn rhanbarthol at ei gilydd efo Magnox ac efo Grŵp Llandrillo Menai i drafod cytundeb o gydweithredu er mwyn cydnabod pa sgiliau fydd eu hangen i lenwi'r swyddi yna, fel bod ein pobl leol ni'n cael y cyfleoedd pan fyddan nhw'n dod, a bod y sgiliau yma ddim yn gorfod cael eu ffeindio'n allanol a dod i mewn i ymateb i'r anghenion recriwtio. So, dwi'n meddwl, unwaith eto, rydyn ni'n mynd yn ôl at drafodaethau byw a thrafodaethau iach rhwng datblygwyr, Llywodraethau, darparwyr, awdurdodau lleol a'r partneriaethau ehangach, megis y bartneriaeth sgiliau rhanbarthol, er mwyn gwneud yn siŵr ein bod ni'n deall beth sydd ei angen a phryd, a gallu rhoi'r cyfleoedd gorau i bobl leol i lenwi'r swyddi yna, a swyddi ar gyfer y dyfodol hefyd.

There are very good examples of how we can bring people together to discuss this kind of thing. I think one example of that is the recognition by Magnox, for example, that the work of decommissioning those sites is going to mean significant employment opportunities over the coming years, with Magnox foreseeing that they will recruit up to 500 additional workers to work on that. Because of that, it's brought our regional skills partnership together with Magnox and with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai to discuss a co-operation agreement in order to recognise which skills will be needed to fill those posts, so that our local people do have those opportunities when they arise, and those skills won't have to be imported from external locations to respond to the recruitment needs. So, I think, once again, we are returning to the live discussions and the healthy discussions between developers, Governments, providers, local authorities and the broader partnerships, such as the regional skills partnerships, to ensure that we understand what is needed and when, and so that we can provide the best opportunities for local people to fill those posts, and posts for the future as well.

Diolch, Vikki. Gaf i ofyn i Luke Fletcher nawr i ofyn rhai cwestiynau? Luke.

Thank you, Vikki. Could I ask Luke Fletcher to ask some questions as well? Luke.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Rwy'n credu bydd hwn rili jest yn dilyn ymlaen o beth oedd cwestiwn diwethaf Vikki o ran y potensial ar gyfer gwrthdaro rhwng sectorau, ond yn benodol rwyf i eisiau gofyn ynglŷn â'r potensial ar gyfer gwrthdaro tu fewn i'r sector niwclear, ac rwyf i'n cymryd bod yr atebion yn mynd i fod yn debyg iawn i'r rheini i gwestiynau Vikki. Ond mae yna fusnesau Cymreig a gweithwyr Cymreig sydd yn barod yn cyfrannu at brojectau yn Hinkley a Sizewell. Rwyf i jest yn gallu rhagweld, potentially, fod yna'n mynd i fod rhyw fath o shortage yn y sgiliau neu gapasiti os oes yna brojectau yn cael eu datblygu yn y gogledd. Ydy hwnna'n rhywbeth sydd wedi cael ei ystyried yn barod o ran sut i ddelio â hynny? Ac dyw hynny hefyd ddim yn sôn am y projectau ar draws Prydain a'r byd hefyd. Dydw i ddim yn gwybod pwy sydd eisiau cymryd hwnna. Llinos.

Thank you, Chair. I think this will really just follow on from the last question by Vikki in terms of the potential for conflict between sectors, but specifically I want to ask about the potential for conflict within the nuclear sector, and I take it that the answers will be similar to those to Vikki's questions. There are Welsh businesses and Welsh workers who are already contributing to nuclear projects, such as Hinkley and Sizewell. I can foresee that there will be a potential shortage of skills or capacity if projects are developed in north Wales. Is that something that's been considered already in terms of how to deal with that? And that doesn't even go into the projects across the UK and globally. I don't know who wants to answer that. Llinos.

Gaf i ddod i mewn? Dyma lle roeddwn i'n dweud ynglŷn â'r her o gael amserlen sydd eisiau gan—. A dyma ydy'r her o weithio'n gydlynus rŵan, efo'r holl ddatblygwyr, a chael penderfyniadau ar Traws a Wylfa wedi eu gwneud, yn lle ein bod ni jest yn ei drafod o, ein bod ni'n cael penderfyniadau pendant ar ba fath o ddatblygiadau fydd yna. Wedyn, mae rhywun yn gallu creu'r amserlen yna a chreu y supply chains fydd eu hangen o ran busnesau a sgiliau'r gweithwyr datblygu a'r gweithwyr a fydd yna yn cadw'r gorsafoedd yma i fynd.

Mae o yn broblem achos dwi'n meddwl beth fydd yn fwy o her, efallai, i ni fydd denu'r cwmnïau yna'n ôl i Gymru, oherwydd mi fyddan nhw'n nerfus i wneud hynny nes bod yna bendantrwydd pur o ran y datblygiad. Mae yna ddywediad, on'd oes, 'Once bitten, twice shy.' Rydyn ni yn y sefyllfa yna, ac mi fydd yn rhaid i'r ddwy Lywodraeth roi'r sicrwydd yna i'r cwmnïau yma i fod yn hyderus bod y datblygiad yn mynd i gael ei wireddu'r tro hwn, ac mae hwnna yn ddibynnol ar fod yn rhaid i ni gael penderfyniadau sydd yn rhoi pendantrwydd ar y datblygiad yna.

Mae'n rhaid i ni hefyd edrych ar y cwmnïau sy'n bodoli yn yr ardaloedd yma ac efallai sydd ddim yn sylweddoli bod ganddyn nhw'r gallu i gyflawni o fewn yr anghenion hefyd, a chefnogi. Rydyn ni'n lwcus yma ar yr ynys, roedden ni’n gallu cydweithio'n agos efo Menter Môn i weld sut oedden ni'n gallu hyrwyddo cwmnïau i weithio efo'i gilydd a sut oedden ni’n gallu sicrhau bod co-operatives ac yn y blaen yn elwa hefyd, achos nid yn unig yr elfen beirianyddol rydyn ni'n sôn amdani yn y fan yma; mae yna faterion fel jest cysylltedd trafnidiaeth ac yn y blaen. Mae yna faterion jest o ran y cyfleon o ran glanhau ac yn y blaen; sut ydyn ni'n gwneud yn siŵr bod y cwmnïau yma'n gallu ffeindio ffyrdd o ymgeisio ac o fod yn llwyddiannus? Rydyn ni’n ffodus iawn o'n perthynas ni efo Menter Môn i wneud hynny hefyd. Ond mae'n rhaid i ni droedio'n ofalus iawn nad ydyn ni'n codi gobeithion, a hynny ydy'r her mawr i ni, ein bod ni’n cael pawb yn barod i fynd a'n bod ni yna ddim yn cael penderfyniad, neu, yn waeth na hynny, ein bod ni yn y sefyllfa roedden ni ynddi’r tro diwethaf, lle mae’r mat jest yn cael ei dynnu o dan ein traed ni hefyd.

I'll come in if I may. This is what I was saying about the challenge in terms of having a timetable that—. And this is the challange of working in a co-ordinated manner now, with all the developers, and having those decisions made on Trawsfynydd and Wylfa, rather than us just discussing it, that we have that decision made on the developments that will proceed. Then we can put together that timetable and create the supply chains that will be needed in terms of businesses and the skills of development workers and those people who will be keeping these stations going.

It is an issue because what might be more of a challenge for us will be attracting those companies back to Wales, because they will be nervous about returning until there is that pure certainty that a development will take place. There's that saying, 'Once bitten, twice shy.' We're in that situation now, and the two Governments will have to provide that certainty to those companies, so that they can be confident that the development is going to be delivered this time, and that's dependent on us having those decisions that provide that certainty with regard to the development.

We also need to look at the companies that already exist in these areas that perhaps don't realise that they have the ability to deliver what is required, and to support. We're lucky here on the island, we could work closely with Menter Môn to see how we could encourage companies to work together and how we could ensure that co-operatives and so on are able to benefit as well, because it's not just that engineering element that we're talking about here; there are issues with regard to transport connectivity and so on. There are issues such as opportunities in terms of cleaning and so on; how do we ensure that those companies can also find ways of applying and being successful? We're very lucky to have our relationship with Menter Môn to ensure that that happens. But we do have to tread very carefully here so that we don't raise hopes too much, and that's the challenge for us, that we get everyone ready to go and then we don't get a decision, or, worse than that, that we're in the situation that we were in last time, where the rug is pulled from under our feet.

11:40

Yes. I'm just thinking of previous panels we've had; I asked a question around potentially placing a requirement on developers to source as much as possible from the immediate locality of any development. I suppose in terms of trying to bring some of those companies back, the challenge in the first instance as you start a new project is that a lot of them are not going to want to come back straightaway, and then the challenge of actually procuring stuff locally is going to be difficult. Having said that, though, are you comfortable, essentially, with putting a requirement on nuclear developers to source as much as possible locally, because of course one of the big arguments here is the benefit to the local economy, isn't it?

I think that’s why the proximity principle’s something that we’ve always—. I said it as we started today, and I think it’s something that every Government should use as an example of good working practice. So, the proximity principle for us is that the negative impact would be felt in that local proximity, so then the positive impact should also start from Wylfa outwards, and that’s why maybe I talk more about Ynys Môn to start off with and then the regional benefits. That’s still our principle, and that will be our championing, and that could be our red line.

But we have to be realistic about issues that we can’t do locally, but then it’s how do we move those companies to be a local company, and then how can we have local people benefiting from those companies from being local here, in north Wales as well. So, it’s just having that dialogue, but it’s extremely difficult for us to reach that dialogue without that confirmation of the development in Wylfa or Traws, but there’s more insecurity around Wylfa because we don’t know if it’ll be an SMR or a large gigawatt.

We also are quite lucky that we do have M-SParc here in Ynys Môn, so companies that are starting up have that sort of haven where they can go to start off and have that support through the university and M-SParc as well. So, we do have those in place to try and support companies, so that they know that there is that supportive network here in Ynys Môn for them to come and start off. But, as I say, we need that definitive answer now about what will be happening, and the same for Trawsfynydd as well.

Ie. Dim lot i ychwanegu, ond jest i gamu nôl a sylweddoli bod yna lot o waith wedi mynd i mewn i ddiffinio’r blueprint, mewn ffordd, a sut i ymateb i rai o’r heriau yma, yn enwedig efo'r cadwyni cyflenwi yn y cyfnod o amser yn arwain i fyny at y penderfyniad ar ddatblygiad Wylfa Newydd.

Mewn ffordd, roedd y cynllun yn ei le, ac roedd yr heriau yma i gyd wedi cael eu hystyried, ac mi oedd y gallu i ymateb i 'scale-io' i fyny ac i gadw’r cynnwys yna yn lleol ac i greu cadwyni cyflenwi, nid yn unig yn Ynys Môn ond ar draws y gogledd. Efallai bod yna leoliadau eraill ar draws y gogledd sydd yn ymateb yn well i rai o’r cadwyni cyflenwi, sydd wedyn yn arwain tuag at Ynys Môn. Buaswn i'n dweud bod lot o'r gwaith meddwl wedi cael ei wneud, felly, dwi ddim yn meddwl y buasai'n her ormodol i dynnu'r gwaith yna yn ôl allan a defnyddio hwnna fel seilwaith ar gyfer adeiladu arno fo, unwaith mae yna sicrwydd ar beth ydy'r datblygiadau a phryd bydd y datblygiadau yn Wylfa a Trawsfynydd yn dod yn eu blaenau. Dwi'n meddwl ei fod yn bwysig iawn cofio bod lot o'r gwaith wedi cael ei wneud unwaith ac felly, rydyn ni'n cychwyn yn y gogledd o safle lle mae yna lot fawr iawn o wybodaeth yna yn barod.

Yes. Not much to add, but just to step back and realise that a lot of work has already gone into defining the blueprint, in a way, and how to respond to some of these challenges, particularly with the supply chains in the period leading up to the decision on the development of Wylfa Newydd.

In a way, the plan was already in place, and these challenges had been considered, and the ability to respond to scaling up and to retain that content locally, and to create supply chains, not just in Ynys Môn but across north Wales. Maybe there are other sites or locations across north Wales that respond better to some of those supply chains, that then lead towards Ynys Môn. I would say that a lot of the thought processes have already been gone through, so I don't think it would be an excessive challenge to get that work back out and use it as the basis to be built on, once there is certainty in terms of what the developments will be and when the Wylfa and Trawsfynydd developments will proceed. I think it's important to remember that a lot of the work has already been done and so, we are starting in north Wales from a position where a lot of information already exists.

11:45

Diolch, Luke. A oes yna unrhyw gwestiynau eraill o gwbl? Nac oes. Felly, mae'r sesiwn wedi dod i ben. Gaf i ddiolch i chi am eich presenoldeb heddiw? Mae wedi bod yn sesiwn ddiddorol iawn. Byddwn ni yn anfon copi o drawsgrifiad cyfarfod heddiw atoch chi. Os bydd yna faterion yn codi o'r trawsgrifiad yna, rhowch wybod inni, ond diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am fod gyda ni y bore yma.

Fe gymerwn ni egwyl nawr i baratoi am y sesiwn nesaf.

Thank you, Luke. Any further questions? No. So, that concludes our session. May I thank you very much for your attendance this morning? It's been a very interesting session. We will be sending you a copy of the transcript of today's meeting, and if any issues should arise from that transcript, please do let us know, but thank you very much to you both for joining us today.

We'll take a short break now to prepare for the next session.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:46 ac 11:52.

The meeting adjourned between 11:46 and 11:52.

11:50
6. Ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru: Academyddion
6. Nuclear energy and the Welsh economy: Academics

Wel, croeso nôl i'r cyfarfod o'r Pwyllgor Economi, Masnach a Materion Gwledig. Fe symudwn ni ymlaen nawr at eitem 6 ar ein hagenda, a dyma'r bedwaredd sesiwn banel, a'r olaf yn ein hymchwiliad undydd i ynni niwclear ac economi Cymru. Rŷn ni'n cymryd tystiolaeth gan academyddion sy'n arbenigo yn y sector hwn. Gaf i groesawu'r tystion i'r sesiwn yma? Cyn ein bod ni'n symud yn syth i gwestiynau, gaf i ofyn iddyn nhw i gyflwyno eu hunain i'r record? Efallai gallaf i ddechrau gydag Adrian Bull.

Well, welcome back to this meeting of the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee. We'll move on now to item 6 on our agenda, and this is the fourth and final panel session of our one-day inquiry into nuclear energy and the Welsh economy. We're now taking evidence from academics specialising in this sector. May I welcome witnesses to this session? Before we move to questions, may I ask witnesses to introduce themselves for the record? May I start with Adrian Bull, please?

Thank you. I'm Professor Adrian Bull. I'm the chair in nuclear energy and society at the University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute.

Good morning, everyone. My name's Simon Middleburgh. I'm a professor at Bangor University, and I'm the co-director of the Nuclear Futures Institute there. 

Thank you for those introductions. Perhaps I can just kick off this session with a few questions. How likely is it that there will be future large-scale nuclear developments after Sizewell C? And if there is a further gigawatt project, what can be done and by who to ensure that that is in Wylfa? Adrian.

Okay. Thank you. I think it is likely. I certainly hope that we do get new large-scale nuclear beyond Sizewell C. We should not forget that Sizewell C isn't yet fully done and dusted, but it's clearly well on the way. If we're to achieve net zero by 2050, and if we're to get close to 24 GW of nuclear energy being the nuclear contribution to that net-zero scenario, it's very difficult to see how we would do that without large-scale gigawatt nuclear as well as some of the other technologies that are being planned and that we'll no doubt talk about later. 

In terms of Wylfa, I'm afraid, being on the final panel of the day, you're going to find certainly some of the things I say sound a little bit like a scratched record from earlier witnesses that I've had the chance to hear, but I've heard at least two witnesses earlier today comment that Wylfa is, if not the best, certainly one of the best new-build sites in the UK, and, from my experience and knowledge, I would certainly agree with that. So, it would be a dreadful shame if Wylfa were not. We know that there is planned development at Wylfa from the Westinghouse-Bechtel consortium. I should declare that, in a previous life, I worked for Westinghouse, when Westinghouse were bidding for the Wylfa project against Areva, back in the first version of Horizon. So, that's about 12 or 13 years ago now. So, I have some experience of that. And then we felt that Wylfa was probably the best site in the country, and still believe that that is the case. So, it's encouraging that we're now seeing moves from Government to put a programme together and start to think about how to choreograph that programme of nuclear towards 2050, and very much hope that Wylfa will be part of that. 

11:55

Yes, I'll echo what Adrian just said, and the people before—I caught Llinos and folks talking before—Wylfa is one of the best sites in Europe, in the world, for new nuclear. We should be developing that. It's got the infrastructure there ready to go. It's a big site. There are opportunities for multiple technologies to be used there, and yes, I think it's just a case of making sure that social licence does not lapse. I think previous witnesses said, 'We've been around the ringer a few times, and we need to make sure that anything that does go forward, goes forward with a strong strategy and a strong plan to deliver that, going forward.' If we are going to meet our 2050 timescales for net zero, we need new nuclear in the UK, and Wales is best placed to take a lead on a lot of that. We also need to consider things beyond just electricity generation. This is co-generation and doing more with nuclear and more with energy as well—so, synthetic fuels, hydrogen economy and things like that. Again, Wylfa is best placed to take a lead on that and really take a mix of all the industries, not just nuclear, into the region as well.

Yes, perhaps if I could just add one more thing, because it may not crop up in future questions. In the evidence in the earlier session from Simon Bowen, he mentioned that his role within Great British Nuclear is very much focused on the SMR programme and they're looking at siting technology selection for that programme. He made the comment that it will be up to Government to decide whether they want to pursue gigawatt nuclear at Wylfa. That does raise the question about the timing of those two different decision-making processes, because it would be a crying shame if the SMR programme didn't select Wylfa for their initial activity because it was being left for gigawatt scale, and then either Government or the investors didn't come forward to actually build and deliver with a gigawatt scale project on the site. So, I think one thing I would be keen to hear—. I didn't hear all of the earlier evidence sessions, so you may have heard it from others already, but I didn't hear how those decision-making processes and the timescales associated with them are interconnected, to make sure that we don't end up with Wylfa left out because it didn't quite fit in with the timescales of the relative decision making.

And with regard to SMRs, how promising is it that Trawsfynydd will be the site of the first SMR project in the UK?

Again, I heard Simon say earlier that he perhaps didn't feel Traws was at the very top of the list, because of the limited land availability and the plan that there is to deliver two or three SMRs within a mini fleet on at least two sites. I would like to see things perhaps rather differently. I think Traws is probably the best characterised and the best developed site for a potential SMR in the UK. And it doesn't run the risk of getting in the way, if you like, of potential gigawatt scale development anywhere else. We know that the NPS was put forward on the basis of thinking about gigawatt plans, and I think Alan Raymant mentioned that's why Traws wasn't included in there, but, when we start to look at SMRs, there's been a huge amount of work done. Cwmni Egino have done a great job of curating and choreographing many of the parties to come together and think about how an SMR might be delivered there and to look at the workforce and the community aspects as well. So, I think simply ruling it out or perhaps not selecting it because you could only build one there would be, for me, a missed opportunity. Certainly, when we start to think about the benefits to economic activity in north Wales, and Wales in general, the places that get the first ones are likely to be the places that have the gravitational pull towards supply chain—those organisations that need to locate somewhere may well go and locate close to where those early developments are taking place.

So, you'd say that Trawsfynydd is the best SMR site in the United Kingdom.

I would think it's well up there, certainly in terms of not ruling out other activity from other gigawatt scale projects. So, you could certainly build SMRs at sites like Wylfa, but, if you do that, you might start to get in the way of a gigawatt scale programme. But having a site that is well suited to an SMR, that wouldn't be well suited to gigawatt, where you could put research reactors or medical activity there as well, alongside an SMR, build on the existing nuclear familiarity within the community, the workforce, the knowledge of nuclear and acceptance of it, to some extent, within that area, would seem a logical thing to do, when we're looking at the UK-wide portfolio of sites and plans.

12:00

I'd just agree again with Adrian. Trawsfynydd is a very special site. It's the UK's only inland nuclear licensed site for civil power, and therefore it's an opportunity. If we are looking at not only building new nuclear but exporting it, eventually, to other countries, a lot of those countries are looking at inland sites. And if we can prove that it's safe technology, and we can build it economically at Trawsfynydd, then it gives us a golden opportunity to go and sell these reactors around the world as well. So, there's that. And Adrian also touched on a couple of other points. There's the medical isotope generating reactor that would also sit there, and it could sit in step with an SMR build. These things are smaller and quicker and easier to build. You can actually start gaining your skills shortage, and you start getting your industry in to help build on that SMR if the strategy is there to do so. So, yes, I'll leave it at that. 

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Thank you both for joining us this afternoon, just as it's turned midday. I want to focus on Government actions, if I may, in my first set of questions. There are calls for a UK-wide programme for nuclear energy, which sets out specific technology and where it will be. What are your views on this? Adrian. 

I would completely echo the need for that programme. And again, we heard it from Simon in relation to the SMR programme. We need to see the full programme—the gigawatt, the SMR, potentially advanced modular reactors and even fusion technology beyond that—and start to think about what we're going to build collectively to get to 24 GW, or—. Ideally, I'd like to see it higher than that, but 24 GW is the figure that people are working to at the moment in terms of a programme. What's that made up with in terms of the mix of different reactor sizes? What's going to be built where and when? Who's going to build it? Who's going to pay for it? If we can get some of that programme starting to fall into place, and the decision-making timescales clear for how the rest of those decisions will be made, then we'll have a really clear conveyor belt of programmes coming down the track, and this, I'm sure, will be relevant when we start to talk about skills and supply-chain considerations later on. But, yes, we absolutely are crying out. We need to have a programme. If we have a stuttering, one-at-a-time series of projects that are on-off, on-off, and eventually stumble over a finish line, we won't get any of the economic benefit, and we won't get any of the sort of strategic value, or nowhere near the optimum full potential. 

Thank you, Adrian. Simon, would you agree? I saw you nodding along to what Adrian was saying.

Absolutely agree. I think, with a new Government programme comes real opportunities for the north Wales region. We can look to things like national labs, or offshoots of existing national labs in north Wales, and that would solve that skills gap. It would actually start cementing the skills supply chain in the region and things like that. If we look over to the US, they've got multiple national labs. Some of them are devoted to nuclear new build, like Idaho National Laboratory. If we can start thinking about Trawsfynydd and Wylfa being part of a north Wales national lab in nuclear, that would be really rather exciting, and it would be an opportunity for the UK Government to really cement that new build footing going forward and start generating that drum beat in the region, which we sorely miss. 

Okay, thank you. Staying with you, Simon, but moving towards Welsh Government involvement, what action could they be taking around skills, supply chain, in readiness of potential projects at either Wylfa or Trawsfynydd? 

It's building on what they've been doing recently already. They've been working very hard. The reason I'm sitting at Bangor University is because we set up an energy institute—the Nuclear Futures Institute—at Bangor University. It supported a handful of academics, and we've grown now to 30 or so academics at Bangor University. And that's really good; we're plugging that high-level, high-education bit, but we also need to start working with the local colleges, and we need to start developing those undergraduate programmes. So, Bangor University have started a general engineering degree; we need to start putting people on it and really supporting the growth of that with local people, and making sure that people go into STEM, stay in STEM, and stay in the local region as well, with good jobs going forward. 

There's probably not a lot that I would add to what Simon said. I think just being very positive in terms of the messaging, that Welsh Government recognises the potential value from a nuclear programme, and maybe amplify some of that message that's coming out of Westminster to make it almost a double whammy for the young people in Wales who are starting to think about skills and potential careers in nuclear. And also recognising that those careers don't just—. Nuclear is not just about nuclear new build; there's a huge amount of other activity as well, and coming into any part of the sector gives people the opportunity to develop skills, move around and have varied careers that are not predicated on the new build site. 

So, I think if Government can take some steps through the education network, and particularly in terms of when young people are getting their careers advice—. STEM subjects in general, we know, are in short supply, but recognising that, in Wales, there are two—I don't want to call them historic—current jewels in the economic crown in terms of what the nuclear industry has delivered in the past, and recognising that that's got potential for the future as well.

12:05

Thank you. And then moving on, a natural development is the socieconomic impact and the benefits that can come in terms of local employment and local Welsh-based businesses as well. Do you have any ideas on how to maximise that in terms of the benefits to local employers or Welsh-based businesses? Adrian.

I think it comes back again to having a clear plan and a programme. We've seen examples where companies didn't skill up for nuclear, for Hinkley Point C, because there was only one project—Sizewell C wasn't guaranteed, still isn't guaranteed—so companies had that uncertainty about, 'Do we invest to try and win contracts on Hinkley when there may not be any more coming down the track?', whether or not it's a reactor like Hinkley or of a different design. And we're in that position at the moment, with companies who are in challenging times having to make investment decisions. Are they going to invest significant amounts of money in either training people or getting accreditations to be able to work in the nuclear field if there isn't a clear programme and a drumbeat of nuclear projects, not necessarily with guarantees for them but which they can be bidding for, coming down the track? It wouldn't quite be a dreadful outcome, but if we ended up in 50 years' time where we'd built a number of nuclear plants, but each of them had been kind of a one-off that, at the time it was built, didn't have others coming behind it, you might find that those companies look back and think, 'Well, we could have done that, but we missed the opportunity because we only ever saw them one at a time'.

So, I think a clear programme, support from both Welsh Government and national Government—UK Government level—for that programme, and an indication, comes back to, 'What's going to be built? How big? Where's it going to be? When's it coming along down the track? What's the decision-making process so that companies actually know what decisions they have to make to fit in with that timing and that programme, so that they can bid to support it?'

It's just about that strategy, and making sure that we have a long-term strategy going forward, making sure that we plug in those short-term and long-term goals at the same time. So, in terms of getting the skills generated to get those companies to come into the region, we need to start thinking about that now. It typically takes a person seven years to get SQEPed—suitably qualified and experienced—for their positions in nuclear. So, we need to start these things now. If we're looking forward to new build in the 2030s, we need to start thinking about it. We can start looking at small projects, starter projects, as I mentioned before with medical isotopes. There are things that we can do at the university in terms of training reactors and things like that, just getting neutrons on and getting people understanding what it is to work in nuclear, and getting that supply chain fit and ready to go. It's something that we've seen with Hinkley. We can't start from a standing start very easily. If we can start making progress now with small projects, with just making sure that people are working, bringing the whole UK in to help along as well, I think it's really important.

Lovely. Thank you. The Planning Inspectorate's report on Horizons's Wylfa Newydd development concluded that the project would place additional pressure on accommodation during the construction period, which could adversely affect tourism, the local economy and the Welsh language. What are your views, Simon, on this, and any mitigating actions that can be taken, and if there are, by whom?

Well, I'm an import to north Wales. So, I came in five years ago to help set up the Nuclear Futures Institute. I think what we need to make sure we do is make sure we are in step with the local population, making sure that they understand what we're doing, making sure that we overcommunicate, if anything, going forward.

I think there are massive opportunities. We talk about housing and things like that. North Wales needs a significant influx of investment, and with new housing come new schools, new doctors, new hospitals potentially as well. You look at what's happened down in Somerset with Hinkley Point C, and it's a wonderful development. So, it's about taking people along for the ride, making sure that people are aware of the drawbacks, and making sure that we listen very hard to make sure that we accommodate those, going forward.

There are some potential benefits to different types of new build, those SMRs, where a lot of the construction, and that big influx during construction, is positioned elsewhere, and it could be positioned elsewhere in Wales, and so that big influx could be dampened somewhat. So, there are opportunities, going forward. I think the key thing is to overcommunicate with the local population to make sure that everyone's aware of the opportunities involved, and push on with that strategy and make sure that people are aware of the strategy and and have feed-in to it.

12:10

Thank you. Adrian.

I'd agree with what Simon said, and probably just the bit I would add is going to sound scratched record-y again, which is just that if there is a programme and some certainty, we can do this properly. We heard from Anglesey council in the previous session about the lack of affordable housing in that area. If we can plan, so that a developer has the certainty that there is going to be a nuclear project and a construction workforce that needs accommodating, and plan in enough time to build housing stock for that construction workforce that can then be converted into permanent affordable housing for local residents beyond that, you're avoiding displacing the local population from housing stock by the construction workforce, and you're adding to that housing stock for the longer term in the future. But, if there isn't that lead time and that ability to plan with certainty, then you will find that there is that conflict between having to accommodate a construction workforce, and the local people, not unreasonably, wanting to be able to buy and live in affordable, good-quality housing in their community.

That previous answer, actually, largely answered the question I was going to ask. It's about whether workers are going to settle in a local area and stay there permanently or follow work to a new site. And would you expect the current workforce around Hinkley Point and Sizewell to move to north Wales, for example? How mobile is that workforce? And one of the things you said earlier as well is that the supply chains are likely to develop around the first actors. Therefore, is that more likely to be the thing that sticks people in a location, if that makes sense?

It does make sense. I think the answer is potentially 'yes'. There is that element of the time differential as well between projects—that if a company's scope that they're delivering to a project is only securing one part of the construction phase, for instance, there may not be work for them to do while they wait for the next nuclear project to come along. So, the skills and that knowledge and capability may dissipate in the meantime, rather than just sitting there dormant and waiting to be transferred to a new project in a different part of the country. So, again, if we have a programme, if we can see what the drumbeat is between projects, if we can think about who will be the first movers and first actors and what potential there is for supply chain and skills coalescing and developing around that region, then, potentially, that region becomes a springboard for deploying some of that capability on future projects.

Just while we're on supply chains, it struck me, while I was listening to one of the earlier sessions, that one of the most helpful things, I thought, from my nuclear experience, going back to the time of Horizon, is that I remember seeing a presentation from some of the supply-chain people in Horizon and the one thing they did that I've never seen developers do before is that they were really clear on the stuff they weren't looking for. So, as well as just saying, 'We will have x construction workers and we'll have this and that and the other', they were very clear and said, 'There are some parts of the scope that we already know where we're going to get it, because we've got qualified suppliers, we've worked with them before, we know what they do, and we wouldn't expect local companies to be skilling up and competing with that'. And that makes it much easier for companies to have the confidence that the rest of it is open for them and to understand where they can focus their efforts much better. So, I'd encourage—when we get to that point, hopefully—the developers of new programmes to be as open and transparent about things they're not looking for from local supply chains because they have it from elsewhere. And equally, that reinforces the confidence that local companies and skills providers will have for the things that they can be bidding for.

Yes. So, the strategy for new build isn't just about getting to the new build; it's about working out what you do after as well, and I think that needs to be clear. So, there are opportunities for retaining these skilled people in the region. Like I said before, we could build a national lab devoted to new build and helping other people, other nations, go about this. There are opportunities for these really well-trained people to go into other industry sectors that work—. As soon as we've got a cheap, plentiful supply of electricity, we can start looking at other things—again, hydrogen, synthetic fuels and things like that, so we can start building that community. And I think it's just really important that we do start looking at these other options in parallel with the nuclear energy story as well, and I think this was brought up in the previous session of evidence. It's about what else these nuclear-trained people can do and what these construction workers can do, and the university can also play a major part in that in ensuring that we do develop those skills for not just nuclear, but for the entire energy, construction and engineering industries in total for the region.

12:15

And, Chair, I've been asking throughout today about the impact of the apprenticeship levy. I suspect I might be going a little bit too granular for some of the witnesses, but, certainly, it would have an impact on planning for future, for example, degree apprenticeship qualifications. Simon, do you see an issue with that? Are you familiar with the issue? 

Not totally familiar. All I can say is we've got a number of degree apprentices working with us at the moment who are hoping to take jobs at Magnox and at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sites, and on the decommissioning side of things. They are brilliant, they are local and they want to stay in the region—they've got families here—and anything we can do to just swell that level of degree apprenticeships and really make them focus on what's really important for the region is good. And it's about engaging, obviously, with industry partners, getting people to set up shop in north Wales and making sure that they grow their local talent for those businesses. 

I guess, Chair, just to note my view on the apprenticeship levy and the impact it would have, it would give England an advantage in these circumstances because of the way that the funds are distributed. But, as I say, I suspect I'm going a little bit too granular for the breadth of the discussion today. 

I'm not an expert on the apprenticeship levy, but I would say, again, perhaps it comes back to the role of Government and the connections and the messaging through the educational system, just to continue to reinforce that message that some of these apprenticeships of all kinds are fantastic qualifications and just as valuable and just as high quality as some of the other more traditional routes into the industry. And we've seen some fabulous people coming through the apprenticeship route in my career.

Diolch, Chair, and good afternoon to our panel. I have two questions, actually, on skills. Firstly, what do you know about what's being done to encourage young people to pursue a career in nuclear energy, and is there more that can be done, and, if so, by whom? 

I can kick off, yes. So, in north Wales, we've set up the general engineering programme at Bangor University, and it doesn't have a nuclear focus. Everything we hear from industry in terms of getting people out of school and into university is that they want those general engineering skills serviced first, and then the companies can nuclearise them—they can give them those high-level skills, those specific skills they do. I think the problem is that strategy again—strategy comes up a lot here. Kids coming out of school into university, wanting to go into nuclear, they look around and they see what's happened before. It's an uncertain future. By having that strategy there, by having a pool of jobs at the end of the day—. People going through hiring freezes might not be able to hire one day or one year. It would be lovely if there was a strategy where all of these nuclear companies, or these nuclear-related companies, could come together and say, 'We, as a collective, need 100 people per year. If company x can't hire this year, we will expand ours and accommodate that there'. So, there'd be a hiring strategy as well as that long-term strategy to get people interested in taking the jobs in nuclear. And it's really important that we do this right now. As I said earlier, this is a long-term effort. We can't just pull these people out of thin air. We need to train them up appropriately, we need to give them experience in nuclear companies, not just in Wales but around the UK, so that that experience can really grow here in north Wales.

Yes, I'd agree with that. It can sound a slightly glib phrase sometimes, but there's a difference between nuclear skills and skills for nuclear. There are the nuclear skills that do take many years to develop and are very specialist, and when people go into those career routes then they are making a big investment in terms of their future careers to work in the nuclear sector. But there are also, as we've heard, skills for nuclear, and all of the other transferrable skills—a lot of them STEM-related skills, but within other parts of the skills spectrum—that any business would need, from project managers to finance people to communications people, and so on. And there's a relatively limited amount of work that is needed to nuclearise those individuals to come and work in nuclear industries. 

So, I think the industry hasn't always been great at getting that message across that the nuclear industry isn't just for people who want to do nuclear physics and learn how the core of a nuclear reactor works, but there's a whole load of other brilliant roles that are available within the sector. But that transferability—and it cropped up in at least one of the other sessions that I was able to see—it's a two-edged sword. It means the nuclear industry has to work hard to attract and retain those people, because I've seen in my recent career a number of really good people who have good opportunities in nuclear but take their transferrable skills and go and work in other sectors, because people value the knowledge and the skill that they have. So, it works both ways. There are big messages, I think, around the difference between just the nuclear-specific skills and all the wide variety of different roles that there are within a nuclear organisation. 

12:20

Thank you. I feel you've both really addressed this, but just to check if there's anything else you'd like to add in relation to how challenging the current skills shortage is to the nuclear industry, and if there's anything else you feel could be done to address that skills shortage.

I'd have said—. Oh, sorry. You go, Adrian.

I was just going to make one or two points. I think there’s some great work being done within the nuclear skills taskforce that Simon Bowen mentioned earlier, and that’s particularly looking at the fact that there is a challenge in the civil nuclear area, but also the defence nuclear area, and those are both vital missions for the UK as a whole. We need to understand that connection and make sure that both sides of that coin have the necessary skills to deliver without delaying one programme for the other. And I think I was going to make another point, but it has slipped my mind now, so I’ll let Simon chip in.

I've forgotten my point. Basically—. What was I going to say? It's important that we get that drum beat, and it's important that we really start getting these people through the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. Yes, I've forgotten what I was going to say. Sorry, guys.

I have remembered mine. Sorry. I think we need to recognise as well, when we're looking to attract people into nuclear, that there is the memory of those false starts that we've had before, particularly in Wales. There's been a—. I don't want to use the term 'cry wolf', because none of it was intentional, but there were expectations raised. I know we heard it in the previous session, about setting expectations. And we do want to raise expectations, but we want to then deliver on those expectations, and we haven’t done that in the past as a sector. I’ve been guilty of it—of going out to young people in Wales and elsewhere, and to supply-chain companies, and encouraging them. With good intent, because I really thought that there were nuclear programmes coming along. And so if anybody has dialled in, I do apologise, because the industry didn’t deliver on the expectations that I and many others had set.

But we mustn’t overlook that, that there is that barrier to get over, because the nuclear industry has said this before. We need to find a way to make it clear that it is different this time. Whether that’s because we’ve got national, UK and Welsh Government commitment and backing, whether we’ve got, hopefully, that programme and that clarity of what’s coming down the track, as well as individual projects—. But I think if we overlook that hurdle of the history of the last 10, 15 years, then we’ll be running the risk of being over-optimistic, complacent.

I think I've remembered what I was going to say. Apologies. Just from a further educational standpoint, we need to make sure that UK Research and Innovation and bodies like that are really lined up with the strategy that's coming out of Government, and I think there is a bit of an impasse at the moment with UKRI and the funding that they are supporting, such as centres for doctoral training. Bangor University is part of the centres for doctoral training, but its funding is running out this year. We’ve got the Governments saying we want to skill up in nuclear, but at the same time they’re withdrawing funding for these doctoral-level skills, and we need to reverse that. We probably need some support from all Governments to make sure that that strategy is being met by action. 

Absolutely. Yes, I'd echo that. 

Diolch, Gadeirydd. I feel a lot of the questions I had have been answered already, but I want to come back to actually what you mentioned, Adrian, about the industry or the sector being very clear about what it doesn't want from local supply chains. I imagine that would put, then, pressure on, say, the UK supply chain more generally when there are multiple projects going on at the same time. I'm making an assumption here, and that's always dangerous, but I imagine the needs of SMR reactors in terms of development and large-scale nuclear reactors are completely different. So, with that added complexity, then, does that mean that there's not capacity? I can already see the disagreement on my assumption. That's why it's always dangerous to make assumptions, but—. Essentially, what I'm asking here is: is there capacity in the UK supply chain as it currently stands to deliver on multiple projects?

12:25

My first flippant answer is that that would be a lovely problem to have, that we were having multiple programmes all fighting for the same nuclear capability, but, no, I think it is a genuine concern. I think it's difficult to give a definitive answer to your question without knowing which technologies and which developers and which companies are likely to be involved, because we have a number of shortlisted SMR companies, there's a number of potential gigawatt-scale nuclear players as well, and without knowing the timing and the subcontract nature—certainly, if there are a lot of tier 1 companies that they would be bringing along, it's difficult to know how much of that might be sourced from within the UK and how much of it might be sourced from elsewhere, or from previous nuclear projects, like Hinkley and Sizewell C, for instance. But I do think that, given the aspiration we have for 24 GW by 2050, if that is to happen—and we should plan for success in achieving that 24 GW—then we need to revitalise the skill base and the supply chain of nuclear, and—scratched-record time—the way to do that is to have some visibility of a Government-backed programme that industry can be confident in so that they will invest and scale up or develop new capability and recruit and train up new people.

So, just for my own curiosity, then, more than anything else now: what are those different needs in terms of developing SMR and large-scale reactors?

I think one of the earlier witnesses commented that sort of 60, 70 per cent of gigawatt is built onsite and a similar proportion of SMR, potentially, would be built offsite, in factories. One of the advantages of SMR—and people sometimes call them 'Lego reactors'—is that you build the bits separately, bring them to site and bolt them together or fix them together in quicker time. So, that reduces the—. Well, first of all, it means you've got a higher quality environment for manufacture if you can do it in a factory rather than onsite, and for assembly, and it means you can significantly reduce the construction time. Because all of those activities can take place in parallel, rather than being scheduled on the same plot of land; bring the components and the modules together—hence the name 'modular reactor'—and assemble them relatively quickly. That doesn't just mean you can get electricity on the bars quicker, but it means the financing interval between starting a project and starting to generate the revenue from the sale of electricity is reduced, and that helps to bring the overall cost down to the developer—as well as them being smaller projects in terms of overall scale and scope, so—.

Just to add also—the geographical umbrella is much wider as well. It means that you can spread that workforce across Wales and across the UK much more readily as you're doing that and skill up specific areas. And, again, if you're doing that, if you've got that drumbeat of these modular reactors being built like cars one after the other, with those factories being the centrepoint, those jobs aren't going to go anywhere. As long as you're building the reactor, those jobs will stay as well. It's important that that is considered as part of it, and it's a real benefit for the SMR technology. 

Diolch, Luke. Are there any other questions for our witnesses at all? No. Our session has therefore come to an end. Can I thank you both for being with us today. Your evidence will be very useful to us in our one-day inquiry. A copy of today's transcript will be sent to you in due course, so if there are any issues with that, then please let us know. But, once again, thank you very much for being with us.

Thank you for inviting us.

7. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
7. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.