Military chiefs have admitted a further setback has hit work to dismantle seven radioactive nuclear submarines left to rust in Fife in the 1980s.
Local MP Douglas Chapman expressed “grave concern” after Defence Minister Jeremy Quin confirmed the pandemic had caused “some small delays” to the project at Rosyth.
Seven vessels, which contain radioactive material, have languished for decades at the dockyard, awaiting a clean-up and dismantling by the Ministry of Defence.
They include HMS Dreadnought, the UK’s first nuclear-powered submarine, which was retired from service in 1980.
‘Some small delays…’
Mr Chapman, the SNP MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, used questions in the Commons to quiz Mr Quin, minister for defence procurement, on progress with the long-delayed project.
The minister responded: “We remain committed to continuing to decommission these boats in a safe and swift way.
“There were, and I have written to the honourable gentleman, some small delays due to Covid, but they were minimal, and we are continuing with the programme and are committed to continuing to do so.”
The MoD began work on the first submarine, Swiftsure, in 2016, involving removing radioactive waste, with a target of fully dismantling it by 2023.
It has also removed low-level radioactive waste from a second submarine, Resolution, and said last year that good progress was being made.
But Mr Chapman said: “For years I’ve been calling for some real progress to be made in getting these subs scrapped and out of my constituency.
“To hear there have been further delays is a kick in the teeth to the Rosyth community.
“Rest assured, I’ll continue to keep up the pressure on the government to get a move on with this, so Rosyth can be rid of these decrepit subs once and for all.”