In a presentation of his Spring Budget on Wednesday, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced that the government will buy two sites for new nuclear development from Japanese conglomerate Hitachi.

The first site – Wylfa, on the island of Anglesey, Wales – is already home to a nuclear power plant that is currently being decommissioned. Hitachi abandoned plans to build another nuclear project in the area in 2019 because of rising costs, a problem that has plagued the UK’s two flagship nuclear projects currently still under construction, Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C. Now, the government hopes to revive the island’s nuclear history.

Referring to the island by its Welsh-language and constituency name, Hunt told the Commons while presenting his budget: “Ynys Môn has a vital role in developing our nuclear ambitions.” He hopes to build a new power station as big as the Hinkley Point C project at the Wylfa site, which he believes could also be suitable for the development of small nuclear reactors (SMRs).

The second site sits in the small town of Oldbury-on-Severn in Gloucestershire, England.

The government will pay £160m ($204.68m) to buy both sites. No concrete plans or timelines for investment or construction were given in the budget.

Opposition party Labour questioned whether a scheme will successfully emerge from the announcement without a clear timeline.

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The devolved Welsh Labour Government, which has previously been promised an extra £170m in funding by Westminster, said the budget was “really disappointing” because there was “nothing new” for Wales. Finance minister Rebecca Evans said the £168m of extra funding coming to Wales “was money we had already known about and already factored into our plans”.

“Unfortunately, [there is] nothing new for public services and critically no more capital investment for us here in Wales,” she added.

Ynys Môn Conservative MP Virginia Crosbie welcomed the news to purchase the Wylfa site, adding that “more hard work is needed to ensure further progress is made and spades are in the ground as soon as possible”.

The deal will go through the government’s GBN programme, which was launched last year in Hunt’s 2023 Spring Budget as the UK looks to make a revived nuclear industry a key pillar in its net-zero road map.

The government also announced that the six companies in GBN’s SMR selection process can now access tender documentation, allowing them to bid for development contracts.