A TRIP to Japan by a delegation from Anglesey council ahead of a planned nuclear plant on the island has been called into question by opposition councillors.

On Saturday, economic development portfolio holder Carwyn Jones and head of regulation and economic development Dylan Williams will form part of a Welsh delegation heading to Japan.

The council says the five-day visit will serve as a key opportunity to improve knowledge, understanding and strengthen working relationships with Horizon Nuclear Power, the developer and operator of Anglesey’s proposed Wylfa Newydd development, and its owners Hitachi.

But, at a time when the authority is facing cuts of £9.34m over the next three years, the leader of the opposition has called into question the wisdom of spending taxpayers’ money on such a venture.

According to the authority, who have not revealed the cost of the trip, it will mostly come out of the Economic Development service budget, while flights were booked at the cheapest available rates (economy class), with Horizon covering the accommodation costs.

Cllr Bryan Owen, who leads the Anibynnwyr Mon opposition group, said: “I question the wisom of organising a trip like this when all ratepayers are seeing is schools being closed and services being cut due to austerity.

“It’s also been kept quite secretive. We as members were only made aware of this yesterday.

“Although I support Wylfa Newydd, I fail to see what purpose this will serve really. The final decision on Wylfa will be made at Westminster.

“If Hitachi want representation from Anglesey to go and see them, they should be paying for it themselves.

“Anglesey and its residents are already doing a favour by being so welcoming to a new power station, so it’s only right that the cost shouldn’t fall on local taxpayers.”

But Cllr Carwyn Jones said: “The Wylfa Newydd project is worth in excess of £13bn and must work for everyone if we are to see the economic benefits for the communities in north Anglesey, the wider island and north Wales region.

“This visit will bring us face to face with senior Hitachi executives, and I’ll be making sure that the island’s voice is heard.

“We’ll be pressing home key issues, such as developing local skills, employment and supply chain opportunities.

“It’s also an opportunity to highlight the likely impacts of construction. These must be managed and mitigated effectively, and the aspirations and concerns of residents, businesses and communities must also be met.”

He added: “We remain committed to the Wylfa Newydd project, but ‘not at any cost’.

“Our first priority must be to deliver the best possible outcomes for Anglesey and north Wales. This will be my main message.”

The delegation, which includes Welsh Government representatives, was invited by Horizon Nuclear Power and Hitachi.

The itinerary will include tours of key nuclear manufacturing facilities, as well as a visit to an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor site to see the same kind of technology that will be constructed at Wylfa Newydd.

Mr Williams added: “We’re grateful to Horizon and Hitachi for arranging a detailed and full programme during our time in Japan.

“We will visit a number of key nuclear manufacturing installations, learn more about manufacturing and safety aspects, and visit a ABWR site, which uses the same technology proposed for Wylfa Newydd.

“The visit will provide a unique insight into the nuclear build process.”