BRITAIN WILL today press for a delay in the launch of a pounds 1.8bn project to develop a global satellite navigation system funded jointly by the European Union and private industry.
Lord MacDonald of Tradeston, Minister for Transport, is expected to tell a council meeting of EU transport ministers in Luxembourg that there are still too many uncertainties over the funding and management of the Galileo project to risk giving it the go-ahead.
The EU hopes to give the green light to Galileo at the end of December, enabling Europe to have a satellite navigation system in place from 2005 to rival the US-controlled GPS system. But Britain wants a delay of at least six months in order to establish the degree of private sector financial commitment.
More than 100 potential uses for Galileo have been identified ranging from military applications and air transport navigation to train control systems, fleet management and the tracking of stolen vehicles or those transporting dangerous materials.
Supporters of Galileo claim that the project could create up to 146,000 jobs across Europe and generate exports worth up to 20 billion euros a year (pounds 12bn) by 2010, of which Britain could account for between 10 and 30 per cent.
The EU and the European Space Agency have earmarked a contribution of 1.5bn euros towards the 3bn euros cost of developing and deploying Galileo. In addition there will be running costs of around 250m euros a year. However, there are doubts about the willingness of the private …