CND has rejected claims that Trident could be relocated to England in the event of Scottish independence.
The proposal, in a new report by the Royal United Services Institute, acknowledges the very many financial and logistical issues of relocating Trident, but says that the Plymouth area – home to 260,000 people – could house the UK’s nuclear weapons fleet.
But Ministry of Defence archives, as used in the 2012 report Trident: Nowhere to Go (by CND & Scottish CND), show that the area was discounted by the MoD itself in the late 1960s.
CND’s General Secretary Kate Hudson said:
‘As if having nuclear weapons in Faslane wasn’t already unacceptable, now it’s being suggested that we stick our nukes next to a population of over a quarter of a million people.
‘It’s not just monstrous, but it would cost us billions, people would have to be evicted from their homes and it wouldn’t even work effectively.
‘Even the RUSI report concedes that it wouldn’t work that well, would be deeply unpopular, and would “trigger a wider national discussion” on whether we need nuclear weapons. All in all it’s not a very convincing proposal!
‘It is telling that the only feasible option suggested for warhead storage is subject to multiple caveats. Indeed the report acknowledges that the Ministry of Defence itself has previously ruled out the site. The British public would not accept the extra billions being poured into any Trident relocation project – let alone the evictions of local populations, the destruction of tourism in the area and the threat of nuclear explosion being placed on their doorstep.
‘Regardless of the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum: Trident remains a relic of the past which should be scrapped now. At a time of cuts to public spending, the £100bn earmarked for its replacement could be spent on the NHS, education and so much more.’
Trident: Nowhere to Go, published in January 2012, is a detailed analysis of government archives. These documents discussed various possible locations for siting Polaris, Trident’s predecessor. This report analyses, using the MoD’s own assessments, why alternative locations to Faslane and Coulport in Scotland are simply not tenable.
The RUSI report suggests that the Trident nuclear submarines could be sited at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth, while the a nuclear warhead storage facility could be built in Falmouth.
The report states:
‘This option would certainly not be without its problems. Devonport and Falmouth are almost 50 nautical miles apart – over three times the distance between Faslane and Coulport. Travelling between the two to load and unload nuclear warheads would consume upwards of six hours that could otherwise be spent on patrol. Furthermore, displacing local services, houses and amenities in an area with a strong tourism industry will be very unpopular. However, it may be the best available option within the rUK should Scotland become independent.’