The UK government has released a new national infrastructure plan that includes a deal with Hitachi to build a new nuclear power plant in Wylfa and transforming the UK into the world’s centre of driverless vehicles.
The agreement with Hitachi will provide the Japanese company with a loan guarantee to help finance the new multi-billion pound nuclear project in Wales, foreseen to generate some 2,600 megawatt of electrical energy.
The venture follows a similar deal with EDF to build a new bloc at the Hinkley Point power station in southern England and is a part of the UK’s effort to replace its aging infrastructure.
"The agreement today shows that, just as we did with Hinkley Point, this government is prepared to give certainty to investors to help them make the financial decisions that are critical for our nation's infrastructure," Britain's deputy finance minister Danny Alexander told reporters on Wednesday.
Hitachi has said the plant will be based on its Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) designs but has not provided estimates for how much it will cost.
Alexander said the project would employ 5,000 staff during construction and create 1,000 permanent jobs.
The government agreed in October on a minimum price, a so-called strike price, with EDF for power generated from Hinkley Point - the first deal by a European government that guarantees future returns for a nuclear plant.
The agreement with Hitachi is part of the UK £375bn infrastructure plan covering public and private sector infrastructure investment in key areas including energy, transport, flood defence, waste, water and communications beyond 2030.
As part of the plan, the government has committed to confirm strike prices for renewable energy, provide £50m for a full redevelopment of the Gatwick Airport railway station, take steps to help public institutions and companies to make their car fleets switch from petrol to electricity or extend the Northern Line of London Underground to Battersea.
The plan foresees the UK will become a world centre for testing and development of driverless vehicles, with the government committing to provide the needed legislative and regulatory framework support by late 2014.
A £10m prize fund will be set up for cities interested to become test beds and development centres for driverless systems.
It has also been announced today that six major insurers will invest £25 billion over the next five years into UK Infrastructure.
“This is great news for the people of the UK because after years of neglect, the UK’s energy, road, rail, flood defence, communications and water infrastructure needs renewal,” said Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.
“It will boost the UK economy by creating jobs and making it easier to do business. It will also make the UK a better place to live for everyone who calls it their home.”
The new plan also includes a £10 million guarantee for new energy efficient lighting systems across car parks in the UK and a £10 million competitive fund to test innovative solutions to deliver superfast broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas of the UK.
“The fourth National Infrastructure Plan shows that the government is delivering on infrastructure, with a long term strategy to make sure the UK tackles decades of underinvestment and gives us the infrastructure we need to compete in the global race,” said Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Lord Deighton.