‘SPECTACULAR” mistakes by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have forced the taxpayer to shoulder massively inflated nuclear defence costs, according to a blistering new report.

The MoD said it “immensely regretted” the enormous waste of taxpayers’ money caused by poor management of three nuclear infrastructure projects.

Costs on the three – including the primary build facility at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria where new Dreadnought submarines set to carry the Scotland-based Trident nuclear missiles will be built – have shot up by £1.35 billion, with delays running up to more than six years.

And the MoD has said the extra charges could keep rising because its poor contract design has left the taxpayer to assume financial risk while doing little to incentivise contractors to up their performance.

The findings come from the UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, which has published its report today.

It said the MoD had been “unable to explain why it has repeated past mistakes”, including some that have been repeatedly highlighted by the committee and the National Audit Office across three decades.

And it concluded that the department has failed to learn lessons from comparable projects in the civil nuclear sector and in the US. The MoD has accepted that it has to change.

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Meg Hillier, who chairs the cross-party committee, said: “ To utterly fail to learn from mistakes over decades, to spectacularly repeat the same mistakes at huge cost to the taxpayer – and at huge cost to confidence in our defence capabilities – is completely unacceptable. We see too often these same mistakes repeated.

“The department knows it can’t go on like this, it knows it must change and operate differently. The test now is to see how it will do that, and soon. We expect the MoD to report to us later this year, in its 2020 update on the Dreadnought nuclear submarine programme, on how it is working with industry and other departments to develop and keep in place the skills it badly needs to take forward nuclear work.

“We also expect a detailed assessment, of whether the current ownership arrangements for nuclear regulated sites are in the best interests of the taxpayer, to be provided to us by the end of this year.”

As well as the Trident-related project, the inquiry covered the costs of Project Mensa, which involves the construction of a new nuclear warhead assembly and disassembly facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment site at Burghfield, near Reading.

It also included the building of a new core production capability (CPC) at the Rolls-Royce site at Raynesway in Derby to produce the latest nuclear reactor core designs.