By Rajeev Syal (TheGuardian) The operational readiness of the UK’s armed forces is at risk because the country’s military bases and infrastructure have become too dilapidated to use effectively, Whitehall’s independent auditor has found. The National Audit Office has examined properties and land controlled by the Ministry of Defence, which cover nearly 2% of the UK’s landmass, and found that they need £8.5bn of investment so that they can be used efficiently to react to any military threats.
“There is a significant risk that the poor condition of the estate will affect the department’s ability to provide the defence capability needed,” the NAO report, published on Tuesday, said. “As the estate’s condition deteriorates, some parts may wholly or partially close. This will exacerbate other risks and could reduce operational readiness.”
Financial pressures have meant that since 2009, the MoD has been forced to abandon its programme of improvement works, auditors explained. This has reduced service levels to those needed to keep the estate “safe and legal”, resulting in a “general deterioration” in the overall condition. Auditors said the extent of the deterioration could now jeopardise the delivery of new and existing military capabilities.
Problems include a lack of funding at Portsmouth naval base, which could threaten the ability of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers to operate. Cables that are supposed to provide energy to the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales – the largest ships to be built for the Royal Navy – have not been replaced, the report disclosed.
“This may jeopardise the carriers’ ability to operate. For example, the cables that supply power to the base and carriers are more than 80 years old. They need replacing, but there is no funding available to do this,” it said.
Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd