MoD: 40 nuclear lapses in three years ‘show how safe Scotland is’

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RECORDS detailing 40 safety lapses within three years on nuclear convoys prove how secure Scotland is, the Ministry of Defence has said.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed convoys carrying nuclear bombs and radioactive materials have been stopped by everything from faulty windscreen wipers to brake trouble since 2016.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) transports serve HM Naval Base Clyde, home to the UK’s Trident nuclear submarine fleet.

Hazardous material is carried to the Argyll and Bute base north of Helensburgh via Scotland’s road system and moves through some of the country’s most populous areas.

In one “incident” earlier this year, the convoy was held up in traffic for one hour after a serious accident blocked both carriageways.

In others, drivers had to drop their speeds during high winds which posed a threat to high-sided convoy vehicles.

READ MORE: Bid to impose target to remove Trident from Clyde after indyref2

Glasgow Anniesland MSP Bill Kidd, who is co-president of the Global Council of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament(PNND), called the 40 lapses “shocking”.

He said: “People will be shocked to learn that Scotland’s roads are regularly being used by military convoys with nuclear warheads on board. Any one of these safety lapses is concerning, but people will be surprised that these issues are so common.

“It is bad enough that Scotland is forced to house these weapons of mass destruction, but these safety incidents are deeply worrying.

“There must be absolutely no complacency when it comes to handling nuclear weapons.”

Responding, the Ministry of Defence said the records prove just how seriously it takes nuclear safety.

A spokesperson said: “Public safety is our absolute priority and robust arrangements are in place to ensure the safety and security of all convoys.

“The incidents reported include minor issues such as replacing a windscreen wiper blade on a single vehicle in a 20 vehicle convoy.

“This demonstrates that, regardless of how minor the occurrence, every incident is recorded.

“None of these reported occurrences posed any risk to the public.”

But Kidd said even simple faults on nuclear convoys could have a catastrophic impact.

Kidd is, the convener of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on nuclear disarmament.

He stated: “The MoD has a history of secrecy, complacency and reluctance to report its faults – safety lapses such as these simply cannot be swept under the rug. It remains the case that the only way to fully guarantee public safety is to remove these immoral, strategically useless weapons once and for all – and the SNP will continue to fight every step of the way against spending £205 billion on nuclear weapons.”

While the UK’s only nuclear arsenal is based in Scotland, responsibility for that system lies with Westminster.

Polling has shown that majority of the public want the Scottish Government to have authority over the weapons of mass destruction, not the UK Government.

London leaders have committed to replacing the ageing system, and while full costs are not yet clear, estimates suggest the new round of nukes could cost the taxpayer as much as £200 billion.

Both the SNP and the Scottish Greens oppose Trident renewal. Scottish Labour had also taken this position, but UK Labour supports its replacement.

Before the recent general election, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard provoked criticism after he said the party was committed to Trident renewal, but wants “a new international initiative around peace and disarmament”.

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