2009 research from Greenpeace, using only the government’s own figures, puts the actual cost of building and operating Trident’s replacement at over £95bn, and also questions serious cost overruns in plans to build and equip two new ‘supercarriers’ for the Royal Navy, which are on order to help us maintain our ‘global reach’.
“The government must
ask whether it can afford Trident or whether it can afford to give up what it’s got to give up in order to afford Trident.”
8 January 2009
The Greenpeace investigation & report, In The Firing Line, has received the backing of many senior political and military figures: former shadow defence secretary Michael Ancram wrote the report’s forward, while Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable says that it is “powerful evidence” that “supports claims that MOD equipment plans are totally unrealistic in the light of Britain’s serious budgetary constraints”.
There is so much spin around Trident that it’s hard to know where to start. In the first place the government has tried to spin the renewal project as ‘routine maintenance’. Which may fool us poor citizens, but not the governments of other nations. They see it see it for what it is – re-armament, and a breaking of our legally binding pledge to disarm. Secondly, the level of intentional obfuscation around timings and costs have practically been elevated to an art form.So much so that it took our researchers months to work out the real levels of expenditure involved.
The headline figure (the one the government is willing to tell us) is a sizeable £15-20 billion, but in fact this only covers the costs of new submarines, warheads, and some building work at military bases. Annual running costs of over £2bn over new Trident’s planned 30 year life span have been excluded, as have hidden costs like those for the missiles on which the warheads fly, and the military escorts which accompany Trident while it’s out at sea. Once these are factored in, we’re won’t be getting much change from £100bn.