CND accused Britain’s regular cross-country nuclear weapons convoys of “playing fast and loose” with public safety, after the  Ministry of Defence admitted 40 safety incidents on British roads over a three year period. The figures were revealed after a freedom of information request by The Ferret, and include short summaries of the incidents which took place in the years 2019, 2020, and 2021.

The convoys can include up to 20 vehicles at a time and use varying routes along Britain’s road network and through urban areas. They regularly ferry nuclear warheads for maintenance between the Royal Navy’s nuclear depot at Coulport in Scotland and the nuclear weapons factory in Burghfield, Berkshire. Trips are made at least six times a year. 

On two occasions, vehicles within the convoy were involved in road accidents. On five other occasions, accidents by separate vehicles caused delays to the convoy. Additional safety incidents included breakdowns, issues with vehicle brakes or power, and staff shortages due to Covid. 

The convoys were also impacted by oil spillages, lorry fires, road closures, roadworks and the actions of other drivers. On one occasion “an erratic driver” tried to interfere with the convoy while on another occasion,  a road had to be closed after police stopped a driver for using his mobile phone and later fled the scene.

While the MoD did not release incident data for 2022, Nukewatch UK counted 11 nuclear warhead convoys throughout last year. They also said they spotted three special nuclear material convoys – noting there was likely more. 

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “The litany of safety incidents outlined in these MoD documents shows how the British government is playing fast and loose with public safety and people’s lives. We should all be concerned that a nuclear accident could occur – through human error or design.  Britain doesn’t need these massively expensive weapons of mass destruction to ensure our security. And our government should not be endangering the public by transporting them across the country on a regular basis.”

Read The Ferret’s full story here.

Image credit: Nukewatch UK