Plaid would only back new nuclear at existing sites

Rhun ap Iorwerth
Rhun ap Iorwerth was quizzed on BBC One's Question Time programme [BBC]

Plaid Cymru's leader Rhun ap Iorwerth says his party would support new nuclear power plants at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd, but not anywhere else in Wales.

Decommissioned nuclear power plants exist at the two sites - both in areas the party is targeting at the election.

Nuclear power has been the subject of debate in Plaid in the past - in a BBC Wales Question Time special Rhun ap Iorwerth said his party's policy was as "honest as you could possibly wish us to be".

In the programme Mr ap Iorwerth reiterated his opposition to Brexit, saying it had caused harm to the economy.

Back in 2018 Leanne Wood, in a failed bid to hold on to her leadership, said the party had adopted a "compromise" which had "pitched people with concerns about the language and environment against each other."

Mr ap Iorwerth told the Question Time special there were "generations of experience in nuclear in two parts of Wales.

"We don't think there should be anywhere beyond those two places where we develop nuclear".

He said there was a "lack of honesty here" and that any nuclear development "was decades away".

Asked if Plaid's policy was honest when the party opposes nuclear power except when it is potentially useful to the party, he replied: "That's as honest as you could possibly wish us to be - lets have them here and not elsewhere."

Pressed on whether he was for or against nuclear power stations, he added: "In the places where they are now? Yeah.

"I've worked very very hard to get Wylfa developed on Ynys Môn.

"But... we only pursue those interests if they work for our communities. We don't pursue them for their own sake.

"We look A, at the green potential of nuclear generation but [also] B, can we make it work economically for us and mitigate against the challenges of building any project like that in a largely rural area."

Wylfa on Angelsey was chosen by the UK government in May as the preferred site for a large-scale nuclear power plant.

The site was bought by ministers for £160m from previous developers Hitachi who abandoned plans for a new reactor in 2019.

Despite Welsh government and Plaid Cymru hopes for UK government support Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd was recently ruled out of an initial plan for new small modular reactors.

The wide-ranging programme also touched on the UK's relationship with the European Union.

The Plaid leader said his party was “making it very clear in this election that we think the whole of the UK should join the customs union and the single market.

“It’s a no brainer to me, why would we not want to deal with some of the harm caused by Brexit”.

He said it wasn’t “turning the clock back” but he wanted to “address the harm” of Brexit.

BBC general election graphic

Mr ap Iorwerth said he didn’t believe that people on low and middle incomes should face income tax rises.

He said policies such as the party’s proposal to increase child benefit by £20 a week per child could be funded by windfall taxes and changes to Capital Gains tax.

“These are means of making sure that the tax burden rests on shoulders that are more broad”, he said.

“I mentioned specifically the equalisation of Capital Gains tax that would probably bring in £12bn to £15bn. We think that introducing more windfall taxes could probably bring in maybe £10bn to £15bn billion pounds over the five year period”.

“There are other means, for example, a wealth tax that we would like to investigate perhaps - a percentage point on wealth of over £10m. So you're talking about a very, very few people but could bring in billions of pounds in that way, again on the broader shoulders”.

“I think we've been pretty honest about that”.