TAXPAYERS face a bill for up to £600 million if defence firm BAE Systems closes its historic Portsmouth shipyard, it was reported.
BAE has put its UK operations under review in a move that reports have suggested may lead to the closure of its dockyard in Portsmouth, which would put 3,000 jobs in jeopardy.
BAE stressed it has yet to make any decisions, but an industry source told the Sunday Times that such a move could cost between £400m and £600m including redundancies and asset write-offs.
In a contract signed in 2009, the Ministry of Defence guaranteed BAE work for the next 15 years and is bound to shoulder the expense of any yard closures.
BAE employs 1,500 people at the Portsmouth yard, while a similar number of jobs are provided in support roles.
The Prospect union has said its closure would spell ‘economic disaster’ for the local community at a time when highly skilled jobs were crucial for economic growth.
A spokeswoman for BAE said: ‘As part of our business planning activity, we are reviewing how best to retain the capability to deliver and support complex warships in the UK in the future. This work is on-going and we will keep our employees and trade union representatives fully informed, as it progresses.’
Meanwhile, BAE has announced it is taking on 265 apprentices across the UK this year, including Portsmouth.