Environment conservation campaigners Greenpeace has called for the cancellation of the Trident nuclear deterrent replacement, the UK's new aircraft carriers and the fighters to go on the carriers, to the consternation of aerospace and defence support organisations.
The pressure group says its research shows the cost of Trident will amount to £34bn – roughly double the £15-20bn that government has estimated. VAT, exchange rates and the cost of renewing missiles have not been factored in, according to Greenpeace.
It says overall scrapping the Trident Scheme could save the country almost £100bn. The other £63bn savings it touts comes from the upkeep of the system over the next 30 years.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: “Any government which renews Trident would be wasting £100bn and a rare and precious opportunity to make the world a safer place, just as the Obama administration is making real progress on multilateral disarmament. It doesn’t make sense on any level.”
But Matthew Knowles, spokesman for ADS – the UK’s aerospace, defence and security trade body, said the organisation’s calls are “short sighted and very risky”.
“Greenpeace demonstrate a lack of awareness in these issues by calling for delays to vital national security projects, which will increase their costs not save money,” he said. “Their overall conclusion is also incorrect and adding the annual costs of a 30 to 40 year programme together to make a large number does not strengthen their argument.”
He pointed out that UK defence spending has fallen from 4.4 per cent of national wealth in 1989 to 2.3 per cent in 2009, while in contrast other departmental budgets have risen sharply.
“Further, defence expenditure can and should be used as a path out of recession via the 300,000 people who work in the industry across the UK,” added Knowles. “As the report for the Defence Industries Council from Oxford Economics recently demonstrated, £100 invested in defence delivers £227 in additional output across the economy and every extra job in defence creates 1.6 elsewhere in the economy. Cutting defence will cut our economic recovery.”