No nukes here, thanks – Sturgeon repeats SNP’s opposition to submarines at Faslane
The Clyde Naval Base at Faslane, Brendan O’Hara MP for Helensburgh and Argyll and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
By Bill Heaney
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has underscored her party’s opposition to nuclear submarines based at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane on the Gareloch.
She told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday: “I am very concerned to hear reports of a significant number of nuclear safety events at Faslane, which are a stark reminder of the potentially disastrous consequence of having weapons of mass destruction stationed in Scotland.”
The safety question was put to her by one of her own MSPs, Bill Kidd, who represents Anniesland in Glasgow.
He was following up on a report by The Ferret investigative journalism bureau, which appeared in The Democrat last week, that there have been more than 500 nuclear safety events at Faslane since 2006.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Matters regarding the reporting of safety events remain reserved. However, I fully expect the Ministry of Defence to investigate any such incident, no matter how minor, and to take forward any lessons learned following all those incidents.
“The Scottish Government also expects the Ministry of Defence and the regulators to work together to keep safety standards to the highest level possible.”
Bill Kidd said that according to the MOD, more than one of the 500 incidents had “high potential for radioactive release to the environment”.
And the number of recorded incidents at Faslane has risen in recent years.
He added: “It would take just one mistake to cause unthinkable harm to Scotland and her people for generations, so, in the short term, will the First Minister impress on United Kingdom ministers the need for urgent action to get Faslane in order and protect public safety?
“Does she agree that it is high time that Scotland became a nuclear weapon-free zone?”
The First Minister said: “Bill Kidd is right to raise those concerns. Each of those more than 500 safety incidents could have had potentially disastrous consequences for people living in Scotland and further afield.
“We will continue to impress on the Ministry of Defence and the appropriate regulators the need to do everything that they possibly can to ensure the highest possible safety standards.He is absolutely right that we also have to get to the root of the issue. There should not be nuclear weapons on the Clyde, and the sooner that Scotland is a nuclear weapon-free country the better.
“The Scottish National Party and this Government will continue to argue strongly for exactly that.”
But Labour MSP for Dumbarton and Lomond, which includes the Base, Jackie Baillie, said: ““Our dedicated staff at Faslane, and at MoD bases across the country, work day in and day out to ensure that each and every task is carried out to the highest possible safety standards. Just two out of the 500 reported incidents were serious and they were more a decade ago.
“Safety standards have improved substantially since then and this is down to the devotion of both staff and trade unions who work hard every day to improve the culture of safety. Their commitment to achieving the highest possible safety standards should be praised and thanked.”
The Faslane Base became part of Argyll after the old Dumbarton District Council declared itself a nuclear free zone.
Brendan O’Hara, the SNP MP for Argyll, with whom Sturgeon canvassed for votes in the last election, refused to comment to The Democrat and is part of the ban and boycott of this on-line newspaper.