No funds for privatised military training at St Athan

IssueNovember 2010
News by Cynefin y Werin

Despite its other shortcomings, it was good to see that the UK government’s Public Expenditure Review has not allocated funds to the privatised military training college at St Athan. This seems to signal that the gargantuan Public Finance Initiative (PFI) will be reviewed and scaled down. The people of Wales have been misled about this project from the beginning. When it was first announced in January 2007, there were promises of thousands of jobs. In reality, the project was a job reduction exercise. It is now clear that only a few hundred unskilled jobs might have been generated for local people.

As with many PFIs, this one seemed rigged to favour privatisation. Since its inception, the cost has leapt from £11 billion to £14 billion, mainly via increases in financial and banking charges. The anti-Metrix campaign sees the project not as the integration of training for British forces, but as committing Wales and the UK to a compact for thirty years with a consortium (Metrix) in which international weapons suppliers are prominent partners. Such a massive military project on Welsh soil goes against the ethos of sustainable development and international citizenship, which the Welsh Assembly espouses.

Max Wallis from Cynefin y Werin and Barry Friends of the Earth said: “This overblown project is opposed by many local people and has blighted the St Athan area, as we argued at the public Inquiry. Advance payments from MoD and the Welsh Assembly of many millions of pounds have been a gravy-train for private consultants…”

Regarding any further development of aerospace business at St Athan, its viability has to be fully considered by the Welsh Assembly Government. A fraction of the money squandered on this project would have breathed life into many more sustainable green jobs in Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan.

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