Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 16:11 UK

Submarine move detailed in report

HMS Victorious leaving Devonport Naval Base
The delay in an announcement is angering the business community

Claims operational nuclear-powered submarines at Plymouth's naval base could be relocated to Scotland have been given credence in a secret report.

The confidential Ministry of Defence (MoD) report suggested that in six years Faslane in Scotland will be the UK's only nuclear submarine base.

It also suggested the three nuclear submarines currently based at Devonport would be transferred up to Faslane.

The report was released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Although the MoD has refused to be drawn on the speculation - claiming no final decisions or dates for announcements have been planned - the report substantiates unconfirmed reports that the MoD will move Plymouth's frigates to Portsmouth and its nuclear submarines to Scotland.

The suggested relocations are believed to be part of a review of naval bases at Plymouth, Portsmouth and Faslane to help the MoD cut over-capacity and costs.

'No surprise'

The deadline of 2015 for Devonport's nuclear submarines to be moved to Faslane also backs up Plymouth MP Linda Gilroy's statement two weeks ago that she had been assured no moves of ships to different ports would be made within five years.

Rear Adm Mike Wood, a retired commander at Devonport who was head of fleet maintenance and still works in defence as a military advisor, said he was not surprised by the news which has come out of the confidential document.

On Friday he told BBC News he suspected defence ministers were holding back on revealing the real future role of Devonport because the government did not want bad news emerging close to a general election.

"Ministers do have answers with which to end all the speculation and uncertainty but, as ever, they await the opportune political moment at which to make the announcements," he said.

This speculation is increasingly destabilising for Plymouth's economy because businesses want to invest in the area but want a clear indication of what is going to happen before they make a commitment
Tim Jones, Devon & Cornwall Business Council

With regards to the revelations which have come out of the Freedom of Information Act request, he added: "The report does not surprise me and provides more evidence to what I have been suggesting that it is already a plan within the MoD.

"It emphasises the need for ministers to come clean on the issue as it would be really bad news for Devonport."

Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon & Cornwall Business Council, said there was growing anger among the business community with Whitehall that the situation remains unresolved.

"This speculation is increasingly destabilising for Plymouth's economy because businesses want to invest in the area but want a clear indication of what is going to happen before they make a commitment," he said.

"There is enormous frustration with Whitehall as the delay in the announcement is delaying investment decisions at a time when the downturn in the economy means the city needs investments to plan for its future.

"If Devonport's frigates and nuclear submarines are moved elsewhere it could result in 10,000 job losses for the city and this will undermine potential investors' confidence in the city as a suitable location."



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SEE ALSO
Ministers 'hold up' navy decision
24 Apr 09 |  Devon
Navy base to be 'nuclear dustbin'
20 Apr 09 |  Devon
Naval move would 'devastate' city
15 Apr 09 |  Devon
Warships 'due to move Navy base'
15 Apr 09 |  England
Economy at risk if navy jobs go
21 Jul 08 |  Devon
Devonport faces battle for future
17 Mar 08 |  Devon

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