The Public Accounts Committee has today warned that the infrastructure supporting the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet is no longer ‘fit for purpose’. The Commons Committee revealed that MoD decisions to delay maintenance at its 13 nuclear sites had created a ‘ticking time bomb’.
Questioning the ability of the MoD to meet its national security commitments, the Committee highlighted a potential £20 billion shortfall in the MoD’s overall equipment programme.
The Committee has already warned about a £2.9 billion ‘affordability gap’ for the ‘Nuclear Enterprise’ which includes the Trident replacement submarines – Dreadnought. Now it has highlighted that when the subs are built there will be nowhere to berth them. Devonport and Rosyth dockyards are already full of old subs, some of which still contain nuclear fuel.
Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, said:
‘We welcome this very frank PAC report which puts MoD incompetence and negligence in the spotlight. It’s clear that the MoD is overreaching itself financially: it clearly cannot afford to buy a new nuclear weapons system and maintain its other spending requirements. Spending on Trident replacement when it can’t afford general equipment is grossly irresponsible.
‘Even worse are the health and safety risks presented by years of MoD inactivity. There is a backlog of subs waiting to be dismantled, some of which contain nuclear fuel waste that will be radioactive for thousands of years. No permanent safe storage facility has yet been found, but our government chooses to produce more of this toxic waste through a nuclear weapons system that it cannot afford.
‘This PAC report must ring alarm bells at the highest levels. The common sense solution is to cancel Trident replacement.’