Scottish Ministers could block Trident replacement

Plans to refurbish the Clyde naval bases to accommodate a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system could be blocked by Scottish ministers, according to an internal memo from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

An MoD email from June 25, released under freedom of information law, makes it clear there are a series of potential barriers to any Trident developments at the Faslane and Coulport bases, near Helensburgh.

The email summarises the outcome of a meeting with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to discuss difficulties that might arise with the refurbishment of the bases. "Any future requirement for a dry dock could present problems," it says.

Such a major development is almost certain to require planning permission from the local authority, and its construction and use would be subject to pollution controls administered by SEPA. In both cases Scottish ministers would have the ultimate power to say yes or no.

The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which obtained the email from the MoD, was fascinated to learn that a new dry dock was under consideration."The existing shiplift has been fraught with problems and only has safety clearance for the next four years," said SCND co-ordinator, John Ainslie. "A new dry dock would be a major development. It would need planning permission and an Environmental Impact Assessment. The Scottish government could use their planning power to stop its construction. This is another way that Holyrood can halt Whitehall's plan to base weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde for the next 50 years."

Environment fears could block Trident expansion (Sunday Herald, 14 October 2007)