“Defence” Minister on the Back Foot Too

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities {NFLA) has raised its ongoing and real concerns with safety at the UK’s military nuclear sites, including Devonport Dockyard, where Trident submarines undergo refit, and the Atomic Weapons Establishment, where the UK’s nuclear weapons are made. The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the National Audit Office have recently highlighted serious safety issues in the defence nuclear sector. in its alarming report, the PAC concluded that the infrastructure supporting the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet‘ which hosts the Trident nuclear weapons programme, is ‘not fit for purpose’. It goes on to say significant delays to maintenance at 13 Ministry of Defence nuclear sites has created a ‘ticking time bomb’ putting nuclear safety and the wider nuclear programme under threat. The Committee has previously warned about a £29 billion affordability gap’ for Ministry of Defence nuclear programmes, and particularly that of replacing the Trident weapons programme. its latest report now notes that there is likely to be a shortage of space at the Devonport and Rosyth dockyards due to delays in dismantling and removing older redundant submarines.

Meanwhile the consortium that runs Britain’s nuclear weapons factory at Aldermaston paid itself £70m of dividends last year despite huge delays and cost overruns on a key project. AWE Management paid the dividends to its shareholders — the giants Serco, Jacobs and Lockheed Martin The National Audit Office said an upgrade to AWE’s warhead assembly facility in Berkshire was six years late and costs had spiralled from £734m in 2011 to £1.8bn. So, while our nuclear weapons fail to pass muster and the industry falters that is supposed to provide the nuclear technology for our military, shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.