Surprise plan for new dock at Rosyth

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The Independent Online
DEVONPORT Royal dockyard has made a surprise proposal to build a dock to refit oil tankers on the site of its rival, Rosyth Royal dockyard in Fife, writes Mary Fagan.

The scheme, which could create up to 1,000 jobs at Rosyth, comes as the two dockyards battle for the contract to refit new Trident nuclear submarines.

The proposals came as a shock to Babcock Thorn, which runs Rosyth. On Tuesday the company announced 550 job losses because of declining orders from the Ministry of Defence and downward pressure on costs. David Batty, a Babcock Thorn director, said: 'I have heard nothing of this. Why are they not pursuing this plan at Devonport?'

Devonport's scheme, of which the ministry has been informed, is to use reclaimed land at Rosyth which was originally earmarked for nuclear refitting docks for Trident. Due to the high cost of the new docks and stiff competition from Devonport for the Trident deal, Rosyth decided instead to upgrade its existing docks.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said it was aware of Devonport's plans for oil tanker refitting. But he declined to comment further pending the Government's decision on which yard should win the Trident deal.

Both yards regard winning the Trident work as vital to their survival. After fierce lobbying by supporters the Government recently bought time by saying that the two yards would be kept open.

The Rosyth spokesman said Devonport could be trying to find a way of persuading the Government to allocate the Trident work to it while retaining some employment at the Scottish yard.