The clean-up of a north Ministry of Defence plant has been delayed by three years, it has emerged.
Work to decontaminate and dismantle the nuclear submarine test base at Vulcan, near Thurso, had been due to start next year.
However, a notice advertising for the 10-year contract was pulled in October by the MoD, who cited a “change in the scope of work”.
Vulcan programme manager Wendy Newton has now confirmed the clean-up programme has been extended to the end of 2025.
In a letter to Dounreay Stakeholder Group, Mrs Newton makes clear that during this time, the site will continue to be run by Rolls-Royce.
She adds: “The intent remains to compete the contract for site decommissioning.
”An update to industry on the procurement is about to be published and a revised prior information note will follow in the summer to provide the detail and commence the new competition.”
Mrs Newton said it remains committed to ensuring the clean-up of Vulcan dovetails with the decommissioning of the adjoining Dounreay site.
Meanwhile, Rolls Royce has quashed speculation that it has been working on plans to implement job losses at Vulcan.
A spokesman said: “We remain fully committed to supporting the Royal Navy at our operation in Thurso and we have no plans to introduce a redundancy programme at the site”.”
The plug was pulled on Vulcan’s pressurised water reactor in 2015 since when the main focus has been to remove the stockpile of nuclear fuel.
Vulcan played a key role in support of the UK’s nuclear submarine programme for 50 years.
Business and community leaders in Caithness have been keen to highlight opportunities for local companies from the decommissioning programme and are pressing the MoD to offer a community benefit package.