False economies in the modernisation of the harbour into which most goods for the Falkland Islands are landed will leave it non-compliant with international maritime regulations. That was the claim made in the House of Commons by Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell during questions to the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Michael Fallon, after he gave a statement on the Falkland Islands Defence Review.
Sir Bob, who is a member of the Defence Select Committee, visited the Falklands at the end of January with another member of the Committee, former Army Colonel Bob Stewart who is the Conservative MP for Beckenham in Kent.
Sir Bob told MPs: “For security reasons I cannot comment on most of our recommendations, but I draw attention to the £10 million saved by The Royal Engineers with new accommodation they are building for personnel at a radar head we visited.
“I urge the Secretary of State to use £1 million or so of that saving to prevent false economy savings so Mare Harbour is fit for purpose and compliant with international maritime regulations.”
Mr Fallon’s response did not commit to do this, so afterwards Sir Bob said he would pursue the matter arguing that it was a nonsense to shave off £1 million from the cost when it would mean that the harbour would not comply with international regulations.
British forces liberated the Falklands in 1982 after it was invaded by Argentina which continues to claim sovereignty for the South Atlantic islands. Later this year, at different times, soldiers from The Royal Anglian Regiment and the Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade will be deployed to the Falklands.