Nuclear transport support questioned

Convoys sometimes pass through South Lanarkshire on their way to England.
Convoys sometimes pass through South Lanarkshire on their way to England.

Local MSP Claudia Beamish voiced concerns about the transportation of nuclear weapons during a recent Parliamentary debate.

The issue was raised following the release of the report ‘Unready Scotland’ which analyses the gaps in the civil response to transport incidents involving nuclear weapons.

Convoys transporting high explosives and radioactive material travel between the Royal Naval Armaments Depot in Coulport and sites in England, which takes them through parts of South Lanarkshire, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Ms Beamish questioned whether civil authorities such as the police, fire and rescue and local authorities are given enough support to ensure sufficient plans are in place to respond to emergencies of this nature.

She said: “As a campaigner for nuclear disarmament I consider nuclear weapons morally unacceptable and internationally illegal. However this debate wasn’t about that. It was about how safe their transportation is through our communities on our roads and railways.

“My colleague Mark Ruskell MSP, who called for the debate, highlighted that generic risk assessments are relied upon by local authorities and information on managing hazards is only provided to the public near the Clyde Naval base but not to residents living near the route.

“Military and civilian partnerships have to be well interlinked to ensure our emergency services and local authorities can respond to any accidents yet it appears there is not a joined up strategic plan and that they may not even be informed when a convoy is travelling.

“The UK’s defence policy is reserved to Westminster and the immediate handling of an incident falls to the Ministry of Defence however, the wider response involves our local services and we need to be sure they are equipped to deal with any accidents, including informing the public if there was to be such an incident. While this is not likely, it is ill advised for there not to be a robust strategy in place.

“I have therefore called on the Scottish Government to consider the open review of the preparedness of Scottish civil authorities to deal with serious nuclear weapons convoy incidents.”