DEFENCE Secretary Philip Hammond has today announced £300m worth of funding for Barrow's BAE Systems.

The eight year programme will prepare the site for the nuclear-deterrent Successor programme, which has yet to be approved. 

The funding will lead to the employment of 850 contractors to build a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

BAE bosses said it would change the skyline forever and hailed it as a 'once in a generation opportunity'.

If approved, that programme will attract another 1,000 jobs to the region.

Mr Hammond made the announcement during a visit to Barrow, with Australia's Defence Minister David Johnston.

"Barrow has a proven track record of designing and building submarines with a battle winning edge for the Royal Navy," he said.

"The world leading engineering skills that are currently delivering the Astute class are vital to ensure we can deliver the submarines of the future.

"The next generation nuclear-deterrent submarines that will be built in Barrow will be the largest and most advanced submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy.

"The £300m of infrastructure work that will take place over the coming years will not only protect 6,000 highly skilled jobs at the site, but also provide thousands of additional construction jobs."

Tony Johns, managing director of the submarine division of BAE Systems Maritime, said: "The programme remains subject to final approval in 2016, but it is vital we begin these improvements now in order to achieve the Government's target of having the first submarine in service by 2028.

"Everyone here is extremely buoyed by this announcement."

Mr Hammond also saw the progress being made with the Royal Navy’s Astute class attack submarines after steel was recently cut on the seventh boat.

The first two boats in the class, Astute and Ambush are already in service with the Royal Navy and the Defence Secretary also announced a £23 million contract to provide in-service support, maintenance and technical assistance to the Astute class boats over the next five years.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: "This is an enormously important day for Barrow and Furness – this investment represents a massive vote of confidence in our shipyard and the skills of the dedicated workforce at BAE Systems.

"The investment secures existing jobs and paves the way for more skilled jobs and apprenticeships.

"Today is a major step towards securing the successor programme, which is essential for Britain’s national security as well as our local economy, but there is still some way to go – I will continue to fight for the decisions to be made at Westminster that will guarantee those new boats."

Coun Stewart Young, leader of Cumbria County Council, said: "This massive investment in the Barrow site is great news for the whole town.

"Even though the Successor programme still needs its final approval in 2016, this sends a clear message that Barrow is laying the ground to be the UK’s main hub for the new generation of nuclear submarines for decades to come."