Read – Trident Alternatives Review
THE Nuclear Education Trust has today published its report into the Trident Alternatives Review and the future of Barrow.
The report makes a case for the publication of the Lib Dem-led review into alternatives to “like-for-like” replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
It also concluded that while Barrow is heavily dependent on BAE Systems as an employer, the economic impact of an option other than like-for-like replacement is not ‘a “binary” choice between 6,000 employed or none’.
The report said: “The Nuclear Education Trust heard that diversification for BAE Systems and regeneration of the Barrow economy is extremely difficult. But we also heard that there is evidence of diversification that had been delivered over the past 20 years and that it would be possible in the future. In many respects Barrow, although still dependent on the shipyard, is already transformed from the town it was in the early 1990s.”
The report recommends that the government should ‘take a number of steps now to support a fragile economy’. Reducing Barrow’s dependence on BAE Systems (and thus the need for Trident replacement) could be achieved through a range of investment, regeneration and diversification mechanisms, the report argues.
This could include investment from the Energy Coast Initiative, creation of an Enterprise Zone for Barrow and transitional funding from European Structural Funds, as well as support towards industrial diversification.
The report also suggested an investment of £100m be made in Barrow if there is no like-for-like replacement of the Trident system.
It said: “In the event of a decision to proceed with an option other than a like for like replacement and which means a step down in employment, the government must provide immediate, sustained and considerable support, which should include for instance regeneration funding at the level of £100m for every 1,000 jobs lost to the local economy.”
The Nuclear Education Trust therefore commissioned its research and a survey to examine in detail the alternatives proposed by the Trident Alternatives Review (TAR) and their implications for Barrow.
The project sought to answer the key ‘what if’ question: “What if the UK proceeds with one of the options under consideration by the Trident Alternatives Review and not the full successor programme?”
In its foreword to the report, NET said it was “very aware that the issue of people’s future employment in Barrow is a very sensitive one – “even whispers in the corridors of Whitehall reverberate loudly throughout the town” (TUC). But sensitivity to – or concern about – what happens to people in areas dependent on military contracts is much more widely shared. Hence we hope that our report will resonate with many.”
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “There are some valuable recommendations to diversify Barrow’s economy in this report, particular the call for the area to become eligible for energy coast support from which it is currently unfairly excluded.
“But a drive to broaden Barrow’s economic base should be done on the foundation of a thriving shipyard, not as an inadequate replacement for submarine jobs.
“Above all, we should not be distracted by talk of rescue packages when no-one has yet produced any credible evidence that there is a more effective way to provide the nation’s nuclear deterrent than building successor submarines in Barrow shipyard.”
Source – Whitehaven News