16/07/2009

WAG to pay £12.5 m pound for NEWT clearance

First part of Defence College gets go-ahead even though it is unaffordable...the government is still pouring money in to this project or money pit. Peter Collins fails to mention this or how much subsidy the war profiteers are getting. The Government has offered Metrix an additional £44m of state guarantees – in effect promising to pay for preparatory work even if it scraps the deal. There is also a requirement for MOD to deliver a clear site at St Athan before construction work can begin.
The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) have agreed to fund clearance of the site, with a pre-Financial Close maximum expenditure of £12.5M. WAG is, however, unwilling to
start work prior to Financial Close unless this work is underwritten by MOD lest the Defence Training College fails to reach Financial Close.

http://www.antimetrix.org/2009/07/x-money-pit-qinetiq-consortium-denies.html


Note this weeks private Eye article DEBT Knell

As experts draw up lists of defence projects to scrap in order to fill the multi-million-pound black hole that is the Ministry of Defence, officials are quietly pressing on with the planned £12bn privatisation of military training even though they know it is unaffordable.

More than 2 years ago the then armed forces minister Des Browne admitted he was privatising
defence training because the up-front investment needed could only be met if it was kept
off-balance sheet by using the private finance initative (even though PFI costs more in the long run - see Eye 1177) . This meant that companies had to buy the buildings and rent them back to the MoD, complete with the training of soldiers, sailors and air crew.

A read out from an MoD meeting seen by the Eye now reveals that the project is looking unaffordable precisely because it is a PFI deal. "Currently there is a £1.3bn affordability issue in the programme," an offical reports. "The problem is borrowing at a reasonable rate for PFI".
The amount needed can not be met from the £2bn "infrastructure fund" the government has already agreed to lend to struggling PFI deals, as this is largely earmarked for schools and hospitals .

The deal, due to kick off next autumn, isn't helped by trouble with one area of military training that is to be brought in but is already privatised: naval training at HMS Sultan. Essential information from there can't be obtained "due to their ongoing political issue with [private consortium] VT Flagship" Not surprisingly the official reports gloomily: "Currently planned programme will be hard to achieve"

But the MoD is determined to press ahead, going back to parliament for approval for a further £44m in "pre-contract allocation" to cover the escalating costs of the Metrix consortium (Qinetiq, Sodexo, Raytheon, EDS, and others), without which "Mx [Metrix] could walk away, although it is anticipated that they will not". Very encouraging.

First part of Defence College gets go-ahead
July 15 2009 by Peter Collins, South Wales Echo

THE first major development which will make way for the £12bn Defence
Technical College (DTC) at St Athan has been approved.

Sodexo, one of the partners in the Metrix Consortium behind the college
scheme, has been granted planning permission to move the School of Technical
Training from its site at the former RAF base’s East Camp. The school will
be moved to another part of the camp, paving the way for the training
college.

Great crested newts which currently occupy the site will also have to be
moved, with a mass capture likely next spring.

Planning permission for the college development has yet to be granted. A
decision is expected in November and the fact that Vale of Glamorgan
councillors have agreed to the school’s relocation is seen as a vote of
confidence in the project.

The school, which provides military technically training for new recruits,
will also be extended. This will allow training to continue on the site
while the proposed new DTC is built.

The proposals are for the temporary relocation for a period of five years,
after which the proposed DTC development will have taken over the school’s
training role.

St Athan Community Council had no objections to the development. Environment
Agency Wales also had no objections, provided close contact is maintained
with the Countryside Council for Wales to ensure the newts were protected.

Rob Thomas, the Vale council’s chief planner, said: “The need for such
development is accepted, in principle, in response to the proposed new
Defence Technical College proposals.

“The re-use of the buildings for the school will have no material impact on
the local area.”

In general, the buildings to be relocated and constructed will be sited
centrally within the enclave, forming part of a grouping of buildings well
away from the site boundary and largely out of view.

Sodexo said: “A licence will be sought for the translocation of all the
great crested newts from the East Camp area into the ponds to the south of
the runway, following the granting of a planning permission for the main DTC
development.

“The programme will be to capture and move the newts, including those in the
water tank adjacent to the school planning application site, in the spring
of 2010 when the majority of the population is likely to be present in their
breeding habitat.

“All newts captured on East Camp would be translocated to St John’s Valley,
to the south of the runway, where nine new mitigation ponds were constructed
in 2007 for this purpose.”

John Smith, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, said: “The St Athan project is
making good progress.

“This planning decision is a positive step forward in the development and
delivery of the Defence Technical College.”

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