Monday, 20 September 2021
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Gy Great North News staff reporter

It seems the MoD still wants to play its cards close to its chest over the development of RAF St Athan. Witness the following, taken from a recent FOI request for the Minutes of Board meetings on the matter,

"The last Programme Executive Board (PEB) Minutes (dated 16 June 2008) contain some sensitive Programme information which could undermine the confidentiality of the MOD's position in advance of continuing negotiations with the Metrix Consortium. Such information is of a restricted nature and underpins our negotiating position, disclosure of which could hinder the MOD's ability to achieve value for money. It is not in the public interest to have this position eroded and therefore these Minutes will not be published. The Minutes will be withheld under section 43 (Commercial Interests) of the FOI Act."

As with all these kind of things, there is weighing up of the pros and cons attached to the response. Tellingly, we have,

"Disclosure of the information for Package 1 contained in the Minutes of the requested PEB meeting would undermine the confidentiality of the MOD's position in advance of the further negotiations with Metrix. These further discussions are central to the Programme's way forward in concluding the clarification and confirmation phase of the work (which will inform the investment decision)."

So, basically, the devil is going to be in the detail, and the MOD wants to make sure that the small print is best suited to its purposes. This does beg a few questions, of course: what is the MOD looking to include, what are the chances of it getting the outcome it's looking for, and what will it get in the end?

It seems only time will tell...

By way of reminder, Package 1 is all about training for engineering and communications, in particular for REME and the Royal Signals, and it must, by EU law, be assessed separately from Package 2 (training for logistics, policing, languages, intelligence, and security, involving other bases). The initial DTR decisions split the two for the sake of "risk management" (see THIS document, which coincidently includes an MOD promise to "meet our obligations under the Freedom of Information Act", and THIS document), even though Metrix ended up the preferred bidder for both.

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