ROSYTH has been burdened with ageing nuclear submarines for decades because of a lack of action by British governments. 

Despite commitment more than 20 years ago to dispose of radioactive waste as soon as reasonably practicable, 20 subs that the Ministry of Defence decommissioned in 1980 have still not been disposed of. 

Now, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed the MoD has wasted an estimated £0.5 billion on storing and maintaining its retired submarines, wasting money and space in the dockyards of Rosyth and Devonport. 

Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman has urged the Government at Westminster to act. 

He said: "This damning NAO report points out it is unacceptable that consecutive British governments have for years ignored this issue and instead burdened the communities of Rosyth and Devonport with these ageing subs on their doorsteps.

"Nor should the taxpayer be faced with an ever-increasing massive bill just to keep them sitting idly in our dockyards. 

"This NAO report shines a light on an issue that I have been lobbying the UK Government on for some time. 

"Working on a cross-party basis along with the MP for Devonport, Luke Pollard, I have urged the Government to deliver a properly-funded programme to recycle these submarines which saves the taxpayer money and moves these old submarines out of Rosyth forever.

"Last year, we wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister asking her to expand the civil nuclear clean-up budget to cover submarines. 

"Not only would this deal with a long-standing problem, it would have the added bonus of creating jobs in West Fife.

"Submarine recycling should be seen as a new economic opportunity to spread our expertise and intellectual property around the globe – we must grab it with both hands. "

The investigation into submarine dismantling has found that the MoD now stores twice as many submarines as it operates, with seven having been in storage for longer than they were in service. 

It first aimed to have a disposal process that would operate by 2011 but now estimates to roll out its dismantling approach by 2026. 

The NAO has warned any more delays to dismantling could cost the taxpayer millions more pounds. 

Mr Chapman added: "As a member of the influential public accounts committee, I am looking forward to questioning the MoD on this NAO report later in the year."

Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said: "We are at risk of permanently losing skills and jobs which could easily be safeguarded if we just got on with the job of decommissioning these vessels. We also have more subs about to come out of service and we simply do not have space to put them anywhere.

“We have the ability to carry out the decommissioning work right now but the MoD and the government seem content instead to continue to throw money away by merely storing these vessels.

"There is an opportunity here for the government to create and secure high-value jobs both in shipbuilding, and making use of existing skills in the civil decommissioning sector. It would have the added bonus in Rosyth of safeguarding the skills and infrastructure required to maintain the magnificent HMS Queen Elizabeth in her home port.”