What the Government's defence spending boost might mean for the West Country

There is ongoing maintenance at Appledore in preparation for its reopening. Credit: ITV News West Country

The Prime Minister has announced the biggest investment in the UK's military since the Cold War, stating £16.5billion as part of a four-year deal with the Ministry of Defence.

The South West areas which may benefit from a share of those funds include Appledore, Devonport and even Leonardo helicopters in Yeovil and suppliers.

This will spur a renaissance of British shipbuilding across the UK, in Glasgow, Forsyth, Belfast, Appledore, and Birkenhead, guaranteeing jobs.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

Babcock who own Devonport is bidding to build a new fleet support ship.

The Unite Union wants the project to go to Plymouth where it says an all British build will take place. 

Harland and Wolf, Appledore's Owners, is also bidding for the project in a joint bid with a Spanish firm.

John Wood, Chief Executive of Harland and Wolff Appledore, said it was ready to deliver 'on time and on budget' ambitions for the UK's defence capability with plans to build at least 13 additional ships to bolster the fleet.

Mr Wood said: “We saw the commitment this government and this Prime Minister has to reviving proper British shipbuilding when he visited our Appledore shipyard in August. We look forward to working with government in order to secure the future of our two shipyards, become the centre of excellence for renewable energy fabrication in the UK and build a portfolio of profitable domestic and export oriented contracts.”

 There is work going on behind the scenes to secure contracts to bring back the workforce at some point in the not too distant future. Credit: ITV News West Country

These contracts are highly valuable. They create a lot of supply chain opportunities and the South West is really well geared up for that. So in total around 1500 jobs could be the end result of this if we can get a really could chink of the action here.

Tim Jones, South West Business Council

Harland and Wolf and its parent company Infrastrata say the announcement also includes scope for more offshore patrol vessels which could form part of Appledore's workload.

The company is pleased with the progress being made and says it shows the Government is equally keen to unlock Appledore's potential.

Infrastrata say it is keen too to exploit a much broader range of opportunities of the North Devon shipyard and believes it could play a part in building components for the Government's so called Green revolution.

It is not clear when recruitment for a fuller workforce will begin in Appledore but for now extensive maintenance is ongoing.


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