We’ve all got one. That redundant object in the house or garden that we keep telling ourselves we’ll get round to dealing with one of these days.
In my case, it’s a set of cupboard doors from a DIY project a year ago that need broken up or taken away.
I don’t suppose they’re the most attractive garden feature, but they’re not really doing anyone any harm, they’re not costing me any cash and it’s nothing for the neighbours to worry about.
So for now they’re just sitting there, more or less out of sight and definitely out of mind.
But let’s say that instead of cupboard doors, I have seven nuclear submarines out there in the back yard.
And instead of costing me or the other people in the street nothing, I’m expecting the taxpayer to fork out tens of millions of pounds a year to keep them where they are.
And let’s just imagine that instead of being there for a year, they’ve sat there doing nothing for more than 25 years.
You’ve probably guessed by now, but far from being a hypothetical headache, these surplus subs are very much a reality for the folks in Rosyth.
A quarter of a century since ministers assured the people of Fife and beyond that the port would not become a “graveyard” for these Cold War relics, there they remain as they await dismantling and disposal.
The UK embarked on retiring its fleet of 20 nuclear submarines in 1980 and the bill for keeping them in storage at Rosyth and Devenport now amounts to £30 million a year. We were told a couple of years back that the Ministry of Defence was likely to run out of storage space by the mid-2020s so a crisis point must surely be looming.
That eye watering sum could be much better spent elsewhere but it would also bring huge value to this part of the world if our skilled workers were able to look forward to a steady stream of work on dismantling these subs.
It’s a complex process and finding a safe way to remove any hazardous waste from our shores must be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
But that should only serve to inject some urgency into the issue — a substance that has been badly lacking in the last few decades.