The entire £15bn-plus cost of Hitachi’s nuclear power station on Anglesey could land on the government’s balance sheet, even though taxpayers are expected to hold only a minority stake. The Japanese industrial giant has warned it will walk away from the 2.7 gigawatt plant at Wylfa unless it secures UK state support. Hiroaki Nakanishi, the chairman of Hitachi, met Theresa May and the chancellor, Philip Hammond, last week to urge progress on the project after more than two years of talks. The final deal may see taxpayers take an equity stake in the Horizon plant, possibly as much as 33%, alongside Hitachi and the Japanese government. Direct state exposure to the construction of a nuclear plant has faced stiff resistance from the Treasury because of fears about cost overruns and the impact on government debt. Industry insiders said a minority taxpayer stake could result in the entire liability landing on the state’s books, despite the Japanese partners, because official statisticians now take a more conservative approach to accounting for risk where the government is concerned. In 2014, Network Rail’s debt burden of £34bn was reclassified as national debt after an EU decree. Any state stake in Horizon would be sold on once construction was completed.
Times 6th May 2018 read more »