Hidden amongst the small print of Parliamentary minutiae and issued during the summer recess, the Ministry of Defence has released a Ministerial Statement announcing how much money will be spent at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) on investment and upgrade work over the next three years.
On 9th September 2009 Quentin Davies MP, Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, announced:
"Further to the announcement on 19 July 2005, Official Report, column 59WS, volume 436, regarding the continuing programme of investment at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), I should like to provide an update to the House. This is the first opportunity I have had to announce that, on 30 July 2009, agreement was reached between the Department and AWE Management Ltd (AWEML) to extend the priced period of work, within the existing overarching 25-year contract, with AWEML to 31 March 2013.
"This work, providing important investment in skills and facilities at AWE, is valued at an average of around £1 billion per annum and represents the next period of priced work within the nuclear warhead capability sustainment programme. It is fully in accordance with the December 2006 White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994)."
Investment spending at AWE has rocketed from £350 million per year in 2005, when the programme was first announced, to the new level of £1 billion per year at a time when the remainder of the public sector is bracing itself for heavy cuts in spending.
Read more about the proposed increase in spending and how AWE has been protected from future spending cuts in a special NIS briefing which you can download below.