Wednesday, October 15, 2008
A day after armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth indicated that a final decision on package 1 of the training programme would not be announced until next year due to financial troubles, IPT leader Brigadier Geoff Nield defended the project.
Nield said in a lengthy statement that the MoD was committed "to continuing with the current assessment phase".
He acknowledged that there have been affordability challenges and that this has forced Metrix, the leader of package 1, to re-examine its proposal. Numerous MPs have told Defence Management that the DTR's funding is heavily reliant on the sales of vacant MoD properties. The current financial crisis has not allowed the MoD to do this which has delayed a final financial agreement.
The project is believed to already be £1bn over budget and Metrix and the MoD are reviewing extensive cuts to the programme. Ainsworth told parliament that even the alternatives such as moving the DTR to a central location in the West Midlands would be just as expensive if not more costl y.
Although Nield believes that Metrix has come up with a business plan to make package 1 affordable, the MoD's Investment Approval Board will not review the proposal until the spring 2009. A financial close could be delayed until mid-2010.
Ultimately the training programme which was to begin in 2012 at the St Athan site in Wales will now be delayed until 2014 at the earliest.
What is wales and what is it for tells it like it is
Behind the blank statements on St Athan
There was a very upbeat tale in the South Wales Echo yesterday, describing the military training privatisation at St Athan as “‘on track”.......
NOW THE RUBBISH/PROPAGANDA THAT THE PEOPLE OF WALES are getting...
£12bn St Athan defence academy plans ‘on track’
PLANS for the £12bn defence academy at St Athan are “on track”, the Government has confirmed.
There had been fears that the huge project in the Vale of Glamorgan could fall victim to the worldwide economic crisis.
But Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth has confirmed that “considerable progress” has been made on cutting the costs of the project.
The Defence Technical Academy, which was originally called the Defence Training Academy at the former RAF base at St Athan, will be the single biggest investment in Wales.
Since the Metrix consortium won the contract in January last year, there have been mounting concerns that it could be at risk because of savings required by the Ministry of Defence.
This led to the smaller of the two development packages for the base being dropped because costs were too high. The main package, however, was left untouched.
The worldwide economic downturn has increased fears about the development.
But in a statement to the House of Commons, Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth sought to calm nerves.
He said: “As in all areas of defence, we continue to look at how we can improve training.
“Members will be aware that progress on package one has been more difficult and prolonged than expected.
“However, I can report that considerable progress has been made in driving down costs and towards achieving affordable, value for money.
“Package one is on track for an investment decision in the spring of next year, with contract signature expected approximately 15 months later.”
The statement has been welcomed by Vale of Glamorgan MP, John Smith, who said: “This is great news for the Welsh economy and the Vale of Glamorgan in particular.
“This statement puts paid to the neg- ative rumours that have been bandied about by doom-and-gloom merchants.
“The minister’s statement confirms what I have always maintained, that St Athan is the only location that will provide technical training for all our armed forces in a high-quality bespoke environment and purpose-built facilities. We have the skilled workforce, the facilities and the project team to make this a great success.”
A Metrix spokesman said: “We are pleased with the progress that has been made so far and look forward to working closely with the MoD to deliver the Package One programme and the Defence Technical Academy in St Athan.”