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UK pledges £350m for nuclear defence and energy by 2030

UK pledges £350m for nuclear defence and energy by 2030
The fourth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine, HMS Audacious at the BAE Systems ship building complex in Burrow-in-Furness, UK, in 2017. (Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Images/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is committing hundreds of millions of pounds over the next decade to Britain’s nuclear deterrent and energy infrastructure as part of a “critical national endeavour” to safeguard the industry and protect the country.

At least £200-million (R4.78-billion) will be invested in Barrow-in-Furness, the town in northwest England that’s home to the UK’s nuclear submarine programme, to regenerate the area over the next 10 years. Another £353-million will be directed at apprenticeships and skills by 2030 in the defence and civil nuclear sector.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps will also lay the Defence Nuclear Enterprise Command Paper before parliament on Monday, which will set out further actions to modernise the UK’s nuclear submarine capabilities, the government said. 

Britain is among the long list of countries around the world seeking to boost defence capabilities and energy security amid escalating geopolitical tensions, with a growing threat from the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt had previously said that defence spending needed to rise “as soon as it is affordable”.

Downing Street said £353-million would be committed alongside £400-million of private investment to create more than 8,000 career opportunities and help fill the 40,000 new jobs the industry needs. Firms including BAE Systems Plc, Rolls-Royce Plc, Babcock International Group Plc and Electricite de France SA are backing the plans, Number 10 said.

Read more: Bond Investors Are Lining Up to Fund the War Against Putin

Ahead of a visit to Barrow-in-Furness on Monday, the Prime Minister said in a statement: “In a more dangerous and contested world, the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent is more vital than ever. And nuclear delivers cheaper, cleaner home-grown energy for consumers.”

Barrow produces both Dreadnought and Astute submarines and will be key to the construction of the next generation of nuclear-powered submarines, which are expected to be deployed in the 2040s as part of the Aukus security pact with Australia and the US. 

The £200-million for Barrow-in-Furness will be used to improve transport links, build homes and support local schools and hospitals.

The Labour opposition said it would “fully back the plans”.

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