Closure of military explosives plant

Below is a story from the BBC website. The Bridgewater site is the ONLY military explosives manufacturer left in the UK - it also produces the conventional explosives for the British nuclear bomb.

There are some indications that production is being moved to the French company Societe Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs (SNPE), in a facility near Bordeaux.

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BAE closes two munitions plants Two munitions plants owned by BAE Systems are to close with the loss of 200 jobs, the company has confirmed.
The former Royal Ordnance site in Bridgwater, Somerset, will shut by 2007, with 130 job losses.
And a site in Chorley, near Preston, Lancashire, which employs 70 people, will shut by the end of next year.
A spokesman for BAE Systems said unions would be consulted, but that there had been a steady reduction over the last few years in the need for ammunition.
"The Bridgwater plant started production before WWII and employed 2,000 people," he said.
"We always regret this and have not taken it on lightly. We have some capability in the US, but this is about the UK market."
He added that the company had other plants in the UK, and that it was currently developing its plan for its long-term munitions business.
The move was condemned by the union Prospect, which said it threatened the supply of ammunition and explosives to the MoD.
The MoD said it was a matter for BAE Systems.

link here

See also here
Steady reduction in the need for ammunition? Really?


I'm sure we have nothing to worry about, the French are always behind us when we go to war.... usually about 6000 miles behind us...
Doubtless MoD will have no problems buying ammunition and explosives when required - the Frogs will sell weapons to anyone.
we can have the french's ammunition, they'll never use it!!
Making HE is not a complex task as the AQ demonstrated in 7/7. If there ever was a need for the UK to produce HE independely of other nations it would not be difficult to re-establish such a facility all you would need is a few good chemists and engineers to design and build and run such a plant. A very expensive business but cheap that supporting BAE, IMHO.


But what happens when the European Union Balkanises and we have our long overdue war with the french? .... Oh yeah, they'd surrender...
As with all things like this, once the experience, techniqes and technology have gone, it is EXTREMELY hard (expensive and takes years) to get them back. National security being put at risk so BAE can save a few quid!

If that is the plant that makes the explosives for the UK nukes, how will we be able to update trident?
Thats right next to my office!! The massive ROF plant at Chorley (A few square miles in size) was closed in the 90's and has now been almost totally flattened and cleaned up. They are now building a new village there and the remaining BAE systems site is tiny, so it's not suprising that it is shutting down. No-one wants a munitions plant next door.


All part of the Grand Plan, friends, to make Great Britain a huggy-fluff theme park, called Tonyland. No Armed Forces required, as we can rely on the US, where BWoS, sorry BAe will be based soon anyway.

We'll be selling Trident-capable subs to the lowest bidder (sound familiar?), the TA looks about to fold, and by the time our masters have finished, there'll be just enough troops left to put on occasional displays of synchronised marching at various tourist venues in London.

The RAF?



Didnt closure of ammo plants prior to GW1 cause untold problems for ammo procurement, hirtenberger to the rescue at what price. Remember that during the Vietnam war the Swedes refused to supply ammo for the 84mm CG to the aussies on the grounds that ir was an illegal/immoral war etc!
just what we need is training curtailed due to everything being packed onto another Atlqntic Conveyor as happened during by Battlecamp at Otterburn in 82. I suppose 3 rounds of 84 TPTP per pln and the rest watching is good enough?
I shot as a civvy alongside some Radway green staff who gave us the gen on which batch and year were the good ones when talking MOA at 600yds etc. I hope that place is still open!


Does anyone actually believe the dismantling of our Armed Forces and the running down of our military industrial base is accidental and unrelated? It is deliberate policy designed to remove the threat of an army rebellion led by me, your future El Presidente... My first policy would be free beer for the army and the restoration of capital punishment for being French.
UPDATE: This was set up on MAY 7, 1998, when BAE and Société Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs set up of joint company and agreed to transfer production to France. See passage in BOLD towards the end.

French Senate

ARTICLE 37 (Machine translation)

Mode of the credits of Société Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs
Comment: in order to seal the project of joint subsidiary between the SNPE and its British counterpart, Royal Ordnance , this article authorizes the transfer to the private sector of the credits of Société Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs (SNPE) necessary to the production and the powder sale and explosive substances intended for fine soldiers.

Although Société Nationale des Poudres et Explosifs (SNPE), company created in 1970 and held to 100 % by the State, posts a surplus of about fifty million francs 21( * ) thanks to the development of its sales in chemistry and pyrotechny civil, some of its activities are not profitable. Thus, the manufacture of the powders and explosives to fine soldiers , who accounts for nothing any more but 7 to 8 % of the sales turnover of the group (350 million francs on a total sales turnover of 4,9 billion francs in 1997) continuous to record losses (112 million francs in 1996 and 60 million francs in 1997 22( * ) ) and falls of orders, in spite of significant efforts of reorganization 23( * )

This situation rises from the saturation of the European market which is itself the consequence of the restriction of the military budgets. Indeed, the twelve producers of powders and explosive military of Western Europe have an output of 8 billion francs for a market estimated at 1,5 billion francs.

To preserve their industrial and technological potential in a context of very strong contraction of the requirements in ammunition for the armies and to restore the economic equilibrium of the activity, the two principal powder manufacturers and European explosives, the SNPE and the British company Royal Ordnance , subsidiary of British Aerospace, conceived the project to gather their activities in this field in order to optimize their means. The new unit should count a sales turnover of some 650 million francs and the main part of manufacture should be gathered in 4 principal establishments.

However, like it the note of impact specifies joined to the present bill, " the British pose as indispensable condition of their acceptance of the project that the future company either held with parity, and or thus of private law. "

The general report/ratio of the French National Assembly specifies that the SNPE and of Royal Ordnance should as a preliminary transfer their respective activities from manufacture of the powders and military explosives to national subsidiary companies which would bring in their turn their actions in a company of British right, held to parity by the SNPE and Royal Ordnance . However, the SNPE will directly preserve 10 % of the capital with voting rights of the French subsidiary company, while Royal Ordnance will preserve 5 % of the English subsidiary company.

The subsidiarization by the SNPE of its activities of manufacture of the powders and military explosives could have been authorized by a simple administrative decision insofar as the SNPE remains shareholder, but the Council of consulted State did not judge any thus.

Indeed, while considering that no text nor principle of constitutional value was opposed so that the manufacture of the powders and explosive military either entrusted to the private sector, the Council of State has, in an opinion of 2 October 1997, estimated that the privatization of the part of the credits of the SNPE intended to be shared with those of Royal Ordnance, was to be authorized by the legislator, in accordance with article 34 of the Constitution 24( * ) . It writes indeed:

"the activity of manufacture of the powders and explosives of military use, monopoly of State whose organization was fixed by the law of 13 Fructidor year V and whose SNPE created by the law of the 1 er October 1971 took again the whole of the industrial activities and commercial, constitutes by itself a national public utility whose existence can only be looked at as devoted by the law. Consequently, only the legislator can put a term at the existence of this public utility under conditions which are not contrary with the Constitution . "

It is the object of this article which amends the law n° 70-575 of bearing 3 July 1970 reforms mode of the powders and explosive substances in order to explicitly lay down the possibility of transferring to the private sector, according to provisions' of the law n° 86-912 of August 6, 1986 relating to the methods of privatizations, the property of the credits necessary to the powder sale and substances explosive.

One can nevertheless question the need for a legislative provision insofar as, as notes it the general rapporteur of the budget of the French National Assembly 25( * ) , the article first of the above mentioned law has already that "pursuant to the provisions of the Treaty of Rome, the monopoly of the State as regards production, import, export and trade of the powders and explosive substances is , from the publication this law, arranged so that the State can either delegate certain operations to public companies, or to authorize public or private companies with to carry out these operations . "

It is advisable to specify in any event that this provision does not cause to make appear the SNPE on the list of the companies privatisables annexed in the law of above mentioned privatization. Its object is strictly circumscribed with the military powders activity and explosives. As the Minister for defense indicated it in front of the deputies: "In fact, it is about a refitting of the activities of participation of the SNPE. It will not result from it any transfer from actions to the private sector. The State preserves all its actions and the SNPE becomes shareholder to 50 % of a common Franco-British company "

The Minister for defense moreover specified that a majority of the activities of production would be maintained in France and that Royal Ordnance would reduce the share of activity of its own installations in Great Britain (Bridgewater and Bishopton) or in the Netherlands where it also has a factory (Muiden). He however added that alliance would modify the distribution of the activity between the three French sites: the site of Angouleme, which is depend on the markets of the armament, would be private of part of its activity since 1999 whereas the establishments of Bergerac and Sorgues would profit from the clear creation of a hundred employment.

Decision of the commission (committee): your commission proposes to you to adopt this article without modification. Agreed 7 May 1998

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