The Ministry of Defence (the Department) maintains a submarine-based nuclear deterrent, operating four nuclear-armed submarines to support the government’s national security policy. To do this, it relies on a network of programmes, equipment and people, often referred to as the Nuclear Enterprise (the Enterprise). Within the Enterprise are eight sites critical to producing, installing, operating, maintaining and disposing of nuclear reactor cores and weapons.
A number of major infrastructure projects are under way to modernise some of the sites. They include MENSA at the Atomic Weapons Establishment site at Burghfield (forecast cost £1.8 billion, forecast completion 2023), where the Department is building a new nuclear warhead assembly and disassembly facility; the Core Production Capability facilities at Raynesway (forecast cost £474 million, forecast completion 2026), where the Department is replacing facilities so it can produce the latest nuclear reactor core designs; and the Primary Build Facility (forecast cost £240 million, forecast completion 2022) to allow a modular-build approach for the Dreadnought-class submarines. The sites are subject to regulation by two regulators—the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator, depending on who owns the sites—which assess whether the sites and the buildings on them are safe to operate. Where regulators are not content, they can prevent or stop construction until the concerns are dealt with.
Published: 13 May 2020