FERRET INVESTIGATION: Trident nuclear project can’t be delivered, says watchdog


Author: Rob Edwards in The Ferret

Delivery of nuclear reactors to power a new fleet of Trident submarines on the Clyde has been branded as “unachievable” for the second year running by a UK Government watchdog.
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has given a £3.7 billion reactor-building project run by Rolls Royce for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) a “red” rating for 2022-23. The project was also assessed as red in 2021-22, as reported by The Ferret.
According to the IPA, red means that “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable”. This is because of “major issues” that do not appear to be “manageable or resolvable”.
The 2022-23 rating for another scheme crucial to renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system — a £1.9bn construction project at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear bases near Helensburgh — has been kept secret. In 2021-22 it was assessed as red.
The planned date for the final delivery to the Clyde of the new Dreadnought-class submarines, armed with Trident nuclear warheads, has also been classified as confidential by the MoD “for the purpose of safeguarding national security”.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) accused the UK Government of desperately trying to hide how “outrageously unaffordable” the Trident programme had become. The Scottish Greens described the programme as “a grotesque money pit”.
Campaigners criticised the MoD for “rewarding failure” by throwing money at nuclear projects, and for concealing the truth about the problems and delays. They warned of “everyday harms” from the risks of radiation leaks, as well as “catastrophic accidents”.
Rolls-Royce accepted that the reactor programme was “challenging” but stressed it was working hard to ensure no further delays. The MoD argued that IPA assessments were not “comprehensive” and said it was improving project management.
The IPA’s latest annual report for 2022-23 assessed the feasibility of 52 military projects costing a total of £255.4bn. Eleven were related to the UK’s nuclear weapons programme and together cost more than £57bn, though the overall costs for three of them were kept secret.
The manufacture of nuclear reactors at a Rolls-Royce factory in Derby was the only project to be publicly rated as red. The reactors are to drive four new Trident-armed Dreadnought submarines due to start replacing existing Vanguard submarines at Faslane “in the early 2030s”.

The full story on this is on The Ferret website

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