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Spend, spend, and overspend on Trident replacement

This week Peter Mandelson and others have been giving the impression that spending on the Trident replacement programme might be up for budget cuts. Yet, on 9 September, the government quietly announced a massive £3bn investment in Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishments.

The £3 billion funding is for the three years to March 2013. According to a Written Ministerial Statement from Quentin Davies, Under-Secretary of State for Defence, an agreement to amend the contract to run AWE was reached on 30 July with AWE Management Ltd, but that this had been his first opportunity to update the House of Commons. [1]

Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp (AWPC) is calling for the government to show some honesty about the full extent of their plans at AWE.

“It looks as if spending on Trident Replacement is already running out of control,” a spokeswoman for Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp(aign) said. “The 2007 comprehensive spending review increased the defence budget earmarking an extra £200 million a year for AWE in the period up to 2011 [2]. Now the government is suddenly presenting a figure which is five times higher, while providing no details about what they’re spending the money on.” [3]

AWPC suggest that the money will be spent on the government’s continuing massive programme of redevelopment and new build at AWE Aldermaston, described by AWE ML as being “on the same scale as Terminal 5”. Several new facilities have already been completed and planning applications for a Uranium Handling Facility and Hydrodynamics Facility are due later this year.

This announcement not only represents a staggering £1 billion per year further spending at AWE but contradicts previous government statements. In the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review funding was allocated to cover “all the additional activity necessary over the CSR07 period” at AWE. Yet, a year before the end of this period it appears that a further £3bn is required. [4]

AWE Management Limited is a consortium of Jacobs' Engineering, Lockheed Martin and SERCO, contracted to run AWE Aldermaston, where the UK’s nuclear warheads are designed, tested and built. In July 2005 a £1bn three-year investment programme was announced by John Reid, the former Defence Secretary, [5]

In 2007 MoD said in evidence to the Defence Select Committee in 2007 that “the Written Ministerial Statement made by the Secretary of State for Defence on 19 July 2005 marked the end of the process to agree contract amendments with AWE ML to deliver the new programme” yet they have now announced “the next period of priced work”. [6]


[6] as above and
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