Trident, the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent, has been allocated an additional £642m in funding to progress work on four new submarines that will begin replacing the Vanguard class, from the 2030s.
The defence secretary Michael Fallon said the nuclear deterrent ‘provides the ultimate guarantee of our security’ as he announced the extra spending on the boats which will carry the Trident weapons.
But he was condemned by anti-Trident campaigners for making the announcement before MPs have had a chance to give the final go-ahead for the project.
In November, the project attracted criticism following a government review of the UK’s defence spending that revealed that the total anticipated costs of replacing Trident could rise to £40bn from earlier projections of £25bn.
Part of the £642m will include £225m to invest in new facilities at BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, where the submarines will be assembled, and the Rolls-Royce submarine propulsion plant at Derby will also receive funding.
Money will be invested in the UK/US collaboration on the missile compartment for the boats and around £200m on ‘key long lead items’, which need to be ordered early in the process. It takes spending on the project's assessment phase to £3.9bn.
A written statement in the Commons said: "In the UK, a number of key suppliers directly support the delivery of the successor submarine programme who, in turn, depend heavily on a network of hundreds of sub-contractors.
"The government's further investment in preparation for a four-boat Successor fleet should be welcomed by all suppliers as helping to secure vital skills for the UK in the long-term."
Fallon said: "Our nuclear deterrent provides the ultimate guarantee of our security and our way of life. That's why we are getting on with this investment.
"This money will support further design work, new infrastructure and the purchase of key parts such as engines and gearboxes, as well as jobs across the UK."
But Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "I ask Michael Fallon, what is the point of a parliamentary vote on Trident if the government's going to spend millions on replacement anyway?
"This is completely unacceptable. This is about huge amounts of money being spent on out-of-date technology that will be redundant by the time it is built.
"There is a growing body of evidence which shows that Trident is vulnerable to cyber warfare and attacks by underwater drones.”
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.