• Luke Pollard MP asked the Prime Minister to fund the recycling of nuclear submarines based in Devonport 
  • The government has not dismantled any of the 20 Royal Navy submarines  
  • The NAO report released on 3 April showed that the MOD has no funded plans for submarine recycling 

The National Audit Office (NAO) report released last week shows that the MOD has not dismantled any of its 20 retired nuclear submarines since 1980. The MOD had previously committed to dealing with the submarines “as soon as reasonably practicable.” Since the Department has not set out a funding plan for the defueling and dismantling of the submarines, it now stores twice as many submarines as it operates.  

Devonport, the constituency which Luke represents, holds thirteen of these decommissioned submarines. Luke brought this issue up to the Prime Minister last year and last week to ask her when the MOD will begin progressing towards this goal. As this project drags out, it becomes more and more expensive. As of 2019, some of the submarines have been in storage for longer than they were in active service. 

Luke’s role as the Shadow Environment Minister and his role representing a coastal community has driven his involvement in this campaign. He hopes that the MOD will fund the recycling of Devonport’s submarines for safety and environmental reasons. The NAO report has been long awaited and has highlighted the lack of response and need of action in the dismantling of these inactive submarines.  

Luke Pollard MP said: 

“This report confirms what I have been saying in Parliament since I was elected – that we urgently need a long-term, properly funded submarine recycling programme. This problem been ignored by governments of all colours for over 50 years. 


Recycling the submarines safely, sustainably and securely should be a matter of national urgency. Communities like Devonport in Plymouth cannot continue to look after these subs forever. There are 13 old nuclear submarines tied up in Devonport right now and little room for the ones that will come out of service soon. Time, money and space are running out. 


We know the Defence budget is already under a lot of pressure. That’s why the cross-party campaign I launched last year proposes extending the remit of the civil Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to include nuclear submarines under BEIS. Ministers cannot continue to kick the can down the road. These subs won’t go away on their own. It’s time to deal with our nuclear legacy and create jobs in the process.” 

 You can view and download the NOA report here.

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