How Scottish independence could spell the end of Trident


8:25 am - January 31st 2012

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contribution by Kate Hudson

Alex Salmond’s announcement of a referendum on Scottish independence has set plenty of political hares running – not least in the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The SNP’s opposition to the location of British nuclear weapons in Scotland is well-known, and it mirrors majority Scottish public opinion pretty accurately. MoD thoughts are now turning to the knotty problem: if Trident is kicked out of Scotland where will it go?

A new report released today spells out the options, as they have been considered over the decades. Frankly, the alternatives posed range from the alarming to the downright bizarre. And the potential costs involved would only add to the snowballing expense of Trident.

So where can we put those nukes? How about Portland, Falmouth, Devonport or Milford Haven? All have been considered in the past, such as when the location of Trident’s predecessor, Polaris, was being considered.

But the MoD itself found them all unacceptable for various reasons. Yet having rejected them in the past, with the prospect of no more Scottish base, these archives are being dusted off and pored over.

The bad news for the MoD is that the problems with these locations haven’t gone away – they have proliferated.

Portland is set to be the sailing venue for the 2012 Olympics. Relocating to Falmouth would mean evacuating two villages and destroying National Trust land. There would be similar consequences at Devonport plus closure of the Thanckes oil depot.

Devonport currently services Trident submarines, but it is inconceivable that the Office for Nuclear Regulation would permit a new nuclear missile depot next to Plymouth – a city with a population of a quarter of a million. Going to Milford Haven would mean five petrochemical facilities being closed down with huge job losses – even if it was politically acceptable in Wales.

The bizarre end of the spectrum includes relocating the fleet to the US. In what sense would we then actually have our ‘own’ nukes? And if that’s not weird enough, we could consider moving in with France’s nuclear submarines in Brittany.

This location crisis should just be the nail in the coffin for Trident. It has already been declared ‘useless’ by senior military figures, and the government’s own National Security Strategy has downgraded the risk of state-on-state nuclear attack to a Tier Two threat.

Does spending £100 billion on nuclear weapons, when vital services are being slashed, seem a sensible idea? Particularly when that bill will exponentially increase when relocation is added? The logical conclusion is plain to see: just scrap it.

—-
Kate Hudson is General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

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Reader comments


Yes, it “should” be the end, but I think we should never under-estimate the desire of politicians to prove how “decisive” they can be when it comes to pointless weaponry

” In what sense would we then actually have our ‘own’ nukes?”

We don’t already as we’d have to ask permission from the US to fire them using their satalite technology.

OTOH Don’t bet against Salmond coming to some kind of agreement with the MOD in order to take the security isssue out of the independence debate.

I’d be more impressed if this document hadnt come from CND, who, it has to be admitted have a biased opinion on Trident.

I agree with Planeshift, I dont think its unlikely for Alex Salmond to come to some sort of deal which will keep Trident in Faslane. He’s managed bigger U-turns before.

4. Mydogsgotnonose

Salmond is doing is a re-run of the Darien Gap Scheme, the attempt 300 years’ ago by Scotland to become financially independent of England. This time it’s renewable energy. He wants to sell us wind power at three times the cost of fossil power because the Climate Change Act means we have to buy it. When the wind doesn’t blow, he’ll power Scotland with our fossil/nuclear energy thus getting a substantial subsidy.

Once the English wake up to this, they won’t stand it. The CCA was passed on the basis of fraudulent IPCC science and this is known by UK government which also now knows wind energy at high penetration causes more CO2 to be produced than would be the case for the same electrical output by fossil fuelled power stations at highest thermodynamic efficiency.

We need to tell the Scots we won’t buy their wind power because it upsets our grid. This is what the Poles have done to Germany. Because of the closure of the nuclear stations, the German power system is near collapse anyway.

5. Rob the crip

What they will do to try and stop Scotland going it alone, move it to Milford they need the jobs, of course trident will carry on in Scotland the job loses would be massive.

6. douglas clark

Kate Hudson must know that Faslane is within 25 miles of Glasgow. I’d assume that more of the UK population is likely to be wiped out by a first strike on Faslane than on Devonport. These are ludicrous calculations to be asked to make.

Perhaps we could stick them in some Tory MPs duck pond? Or grow up and get shot of them?

Such odd considerations listed.

Seriously suggesting that Portland cannot be used because it’s “set to be the sailing venue for the 2012 Olympics”?
I think the Olympics might be finished some time before there’s a referendum on Scottish independence & as for National Trust Land, that’s not likely to stop the MoD.

Evacuating a few villages might slow them down, depending on how much publicity gets generated, but the oil terminal wouldn’t be a worry – in fact may even be of mutual benefit in ensuring visitors are kept well away from both sites and providing the RN with a very close point for re-fuelling their subs, ships & vehicles.

8. sackcloth and ashes

Ah, Kate Hudson of the Communist Party of Britain. The same Kate Hudson who condemned the IAEA for referring Iran’s nuclear programme to the UN Security Council. Just the kind of informed comment we need on nuclear matters.

Moreover, there is the small issue of the job losses that Faslane would suffer if the RN move out (which will reflect the spike in unemployment if Scotland was to be deprived of military and defence-related jobs). Not that this should be a factor at all for a CPB hack.

@8 sackcloth

Hmmnnn…. the usual simplistic “oh the sky is falling” response; every bit as misleading as Kate Hudson’s comments you are so keen to rubbish in fact.

You might like to consider Hazel Lewry’s piece on Newsnetscotland as an antidote to your misguided fears about what would happen post independence:

http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4151-in-defence-of-the-scottish-realm

As she notes:

“Scots should clearly understand that although their nation’s defence contribution to Whitehall is about £3.62 billion, the defence spend in Scotland is reducing in both actual and real terms. According to the UK parliaments strategic defence review document, it dropped by 68% over 6 years. In 2008 it was down around £1.57 billion. ….. As things stand, Scotland therefore subsidises the UK defence budget by over £2 billion a year and London and the SE of England enjoy a massive defence overspend.”

Also, later in her article she notes that:

“Professor Malcolm Chalmers, research director at London-based Royal United Services Institute, an independent military think-tank, quoted a £2.2bn price tag for an SDF. …… This would be an increase in real terms on current UK under spend of £500 million each year, available for direct injection into the Scottish economy.”

Sooooo… run that past us again about what a disaster it would be for Scotland to kick out Trident…..?

I am scottish. There would be job losses associated with closure of Faslane. There are job losses associated with lots of policies promulated from Westminster. The finanical calculations associated with this are not simple because there is great difficulty in disentangling uk financial arrangments. I am persuaded that cutting defence spending by getting rid of trident etc would release money for investment.

But even if I am wrong about that there are sacrifices which are worth making. And this is one of them. Faslane is very close to major population centres. It is merely insulting to suggest they cannot be moved near an english city of 250,000. I propose they relocate these safe and essential submarines to St Katherine’s dock or some other central london site.

11. Martin Hunter

“Devonport currently services Trident submarines, but it is inconceivable that the Office for Nuclear Regulation would permit a new nuclear missile depot next to Plymouth – a city with a population of a quarter of a million.”

But quite all right to have it sited next to Glasgow with a population over double that.

12. So Much For Subtlety

2. Planeshift

We don’t already as we’d have to ask permission from the US to fire them using their satalite technology.

No we don’t. Why do you want to believe such a childish lie?

OTOH Don’t bet against Salmond coming to some kind of agreement with the MOD in order to take the security isssue out of the independence debate.

But why would the MOD agree to save Salmond’s bacon? Scottish independence means the closure of the submarine bases in Scotland – and the shipyards.

John Ruddy

I’d be more impressed if this document hadnt come from CND, who, it has to be admitted have a biased opinion on Trident.

Not to mention it comes from the former Head of the Communist Party of Great Britain who spent the Cold War taking money from the Soviets so that they could bring mass murder and genocide to Britain. Worthless.

@11 – Faslane is near Glasgow but it is about 25 miles away, not in the centre of the city like Devonport is in Plymouth.

@8, 10, 12 – there is a dispute, purposefully muddied by some, over how many jobs at Faslane are reliant on Trident and how many service a naval base regardless of nuclear weapons. Whatever you think of the SNP or independence, their proposal is it would remain a naval base.

14. So Much For Subtlety

13. Ben

Faslane is near Glasgow but it is about 25 miles away, not in the centre of the city like Devonport is in Plymouth.

It makes no difference. Glasgow may have been a target during the Cold War, but there is little point targeting Faslane. Our likely near-future opponents, Iran maybe, are unlikely to be able to hit it anyway. The Submarines will not be there if they try. The worst threat is an accident during the removal of fuel from the submarine’s reactor. A minor threat and it hardly matters where the sub is.

Whatever you think of the SNP or independence, their proposal is it would remain a naval base.

For what? This is just the usual SNP dishonesty. What navy will use it? The Americans? The Russians? The British nuclear deterrent will be moved to a British port. So will the rest of the Navy. Not in Scotland.

There is, of course, a simpler solution – base them in the Falklands. They may deter the Argentinians. They are far away from any population of size. They will bring the islands money they do not need any more. And while it would take a bit longer to steam to their patrol areas, it would not matter that much.

@6 Douglas Clark
After the fall of the Soviet Union, papers were available which showed Soviet thinking in terms of a strike on the UK.

Faslane would have been hit first, of course. But Glasgow and Edinburgh would also have got hit at exactly the same time – along with about 25 other major british cities.

Unless you’re saying that the fact Faslane/Glasgow might have been hit 25 nano seconds before London is a a good reason to move it somewhere else?

@14 SMFS

“For what? This is just the usual SNP dishonesty. What navy will use it? The Americans? The Russians? The British nuclear deterrent will be moved to a British port. So will the rest of the Navy. Not in Scotland.”

What an odd response! a nuclear free independent Scotland would still need naval bases, given the requirement to defend its own waters, fisheries protection etc. There is no reason why they shouldn’t use Faslane as a base for a “normal” navy. Why do jump to the knee jerk conclusion that the SNP are being dishonest?

I doubt most people expect Trident and all the associated infrastructure to be moved the day after independence, but I’m sure we could come up with some reasonable scheme for the rump UK to pay to lease the base until you can move the nuclear related infrastructure.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the Trident related stuff only accounts for part of the Faslane facilities, and a minority of the jobs.

17. So Much For Subtlety

16. Galen10

What an odd response! a nuclear free independent Scotland would still need naval bases, given the requirement to defend its own waters, fisheries protection etc. There is no reason why they shouldn’t use Faslane as a base for a “normal” navy. Why do jump to the knee jerk conclusion that the SNP are being dishonest?

The SNP is unilateralist or has been. I see no sign they have any intention of defending anything. And if so, from whom precisely? Fisheries protection? Britain as a whole has four vessels in the fisheries protection squadron. Four very small vessels. One of which is based in the Falklands. Suppose Scotland needs one – there is little need for it when we are all in the EU and share the CFP is there? Faslane has what? All Britain’s main submarines. Which will go. Some Anti-Mine vessels. Scotland has little need of those I would guess. And two patrol boats. Apart from the submarines, half the Football team owners in Britain have larger gin palaces than any vessels I know of based there. What does Scotland need an entire base for? A pier ought to do.

I doubt most people expect Trident and all the associated infrastructure to be moved the day after independence, but I’m sure we could come up with some reasonable scheme for the rump UK to pay to lease the base until you can move the nuclear related infrastructure.

I am sure that planning is under way to make sure there is an alternative before the day after independence. But I agree, if there isn’t, I am sure this can be worked out very civilly.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the Trident related stuff only accounts for part of the Faslane facilities, and a minority of the jobs.

I kind of disagree. The tiny number of vessels that use the base can hardly demand so many workers. Especially given their tiny size. Scotland is going to have problems enough. It will struggle to maintain any navy at all.

@17 SMFS

Jeezus you just don’t give up do you? Is there no end to your ignorance?

An independent Scotland would have on its own the largest proportion of the EU’s territorial waters. It is vanishingly unlikely that they will simply leave them undefended, so they are going to have need of a decent number and quality of fisheries protection vessels which will need to be based in various places around the coast given the size of the area. Why would you think there would only be one base given the size of the country… they might very well have a number; some on the E. coast, some in the W. coast and some in the northern isles.

Similarly, upon independence, Scotland would be entitled either to a certain number or the equivalent value, of the existing naval ships, aircraft and other materiel of the current UK forces which we helped pay for. This is hardly rocket science. I doubt we’ll be needing aircraft carriers, but a number of frigates, destroyers etc wouldn’t go amiss. Do you think places like Denmark, Norway etc have nothing? It isn’t difficult to check on the internet.

Moving Trident sumarines themselves wouldn’t be hard, it’s the infrastructure that would be more difficult; hardened bunkers and specialised handling equipment for the nukes – those would take years to reproduce elsewhere.

You can disagree all you want about job levels in faslane… but you are wrong, as even a cursory attempt to actually look at the evidence (not your strong point as we know of old!) would have shown. Only around a third of jobs at Faslane are relaint on Trident, probably less than 1500. That is of course a significant number of jobs, but few in Scotland would regard them as a good investment. Many more jobs could be created using the money being wasted on Trident, even if you simply moved the spending into conventional military systems. So again, your facts are wrong; you can “kinda disagree” all you like, but its no substitute for actually finding out.

As for your claim Scotland would struggle to maintain any navy at all, that’s just bonkers; you simply out yourself as one of the unthinking “too wee, too poor, too stupid” bigots who infest the debate about devolution and independence.

Try checking what other equivalent countries have before confirming your ignorance:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Norwegian_Navy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vessels_in_the_Danish_Navy


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  7. CND

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  8. Cameron

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  9. CND

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  10. Anne

    How Scottish independence could spell the end of Trident | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/o8PkbUTF via @libcon

  11. James

    How Scottish independence could spell the end of Trident http://t.co/U4tISElH

  12. CND

    If Trident kicked out of Scotland, where will it go? Portland, Falmouth, Devonport, Milford Haven previously ruled out http://t.co/o8PkbUTF

  13. Labour CND

    How Scottish independence could spell the end of Trident | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/OQQSHgj0 via @libcon

  14. Ben Folley

    Read @CNDuk's Kate Hudson on how Scottish independence could spell the end of Trident http://t.co/fgnOX72M via @libcon

  15. Joy Johnson

    RT @benfolley: Read @CNDuk's Kate Hudson on how Scottish independence could spell the end of Trident http://t.co/53Lt4ZxT via @libcon

  16. Scott Redding

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