HC Deb 10 December 2003 vol 415 cc466-7W
John Thurso

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when the public private partnership/private finance initiative project for the provision of MoD marine navigational aids is to be concluded; and what the cost to the Department has been;[142535]

(2)if he will list the parties involved in the public private partnership/private finance initiative project for the provision of MoD marine navigational aids; [142536]

(3)what consultation he has had with (a) the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, (b) Trinity House, (c) the Northern Lighthouse Board and (d) the Commissioners for Irish Lights regarding the public private partnership/private finance initiative contract for the provision of marine navigational aids. [142537]

Mr. Ingram

The future provision of Marine Services, which includes work relating to marine navigational aids, is the subject of a PPP/PFI Acquisition programme. These services are currently provided by Serco Denholm, under a Government Owned-Contractor Operated (GOCO) arrangement and by the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service (RMAS). The RMAS are currently responsible for the laying/recovery and annual maintenance of some 205 navigational buoys around the coast of the British Isles. Under current plans, the design authority for navigational buoys and the supply of related mooring materials will also be transferred to the successful bidder.

Invitations to Negotiate have been issued to Serco Denholm Ltd and a consortium led by Babcock Naval Services Ltd. The RMAS have also been given the opportunity under the Acquisition programme to compete for a package of work similar in scope to their current portfolio. Announcement of the preferred option is planned in early 2005 with the conclusion of the PPP/PFI programme expected in Autumn 2005.

Maintenance of MOD navigational buoys represents a small part of the future provision of Marine Services programme and it is not possible to identify separately the management costs for this aspect alone.

Discussions took place with the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs), Non-Departmental Public Bodies sponsored by the DIE, in 2001 to determine whether there was scope for the GLAs to take over the maintenance and upkeep of MOD UK navigational buoys. However, it was subsequently decided not to proceed as such an arrangement would provide little benefit to the MOD. No further discussions on this matter have taken place either with public or private sector bodies.

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