The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today responded to the Ministry of Defence’s announcement that Devonport is to be stripped of its role as home to many of the UK’s conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines. They will instead be based at Faslane, 30 miles west of Glasgow.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said the announcement “will leave Devonport as little more than a nuclear scrapyard for old subs whilst putting even more submarines – in effect floating nuclear power stations – in a country whose Government opposes nuclear reactors on land, let alone those surrounded by high-explosive weaponry.”
Whilst the main results of the ‘Maritime Change Programme’ were announced today, it is widely expected that in exchange for the loss of frigates and active submarines the Plymouth base is to be given the ‘sweetener’ of cutting up the UK’s legacy of rusting nuclear-powered submarines. This is likely to be announced after environmental reports and a public consultation are finalised later this year. CND believes dismantling highly radioactive submarine reactors only a few hundred metres from schools and homes is “an obscene risk which must not be allowed.”
If announced, the reactors of the seven nuclear-powered subs already stored at Devonport, the identical number at Rosyth and those of submarines soon to leave service, would be cut-up in Devonport which sits at the heart of Plymouth, home to 250,000 people.
The MoD had previously consulted Plymouth residents on the prospect of managing and storing nuclear submarine waste at Devonport as part of the ISOLUS Project (Interim Storage of Laid Up Submarine). The public had overwhelmingly rejected the option, but the MoD appears to be ignoring this. CND wants to see Devonport diversify the use of its engineering skills to safeguard jobs, rather than taking on dangerous work, potentially with terrible consequences for the local community.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “Making Faslane the Royal Navy’s sole submarine operating base would further tie Scotland into Westminster’s nuclear calculations. It is sheer madness to further entrench the submarine fleet – both conventional and nuclear-armed – in a nation whose Parliament voted so decisively against nuclear weapons.”
She continued, “To leave Devonport as a centre for cutting up old nuclear subs is an obscene risk which must not be allowed. Whatever safeguards are put in place, the fact that nuclear submarines and their reactors are to be broken up only a stone’s throw from schools and homes is a national disgrace. It is totally inappropriate to create a nuclear dumping ground in the middle of a city of a quarter of a million people, which already suffers from high cancer levels.
“Serious questions must be asked about why the MoD think it acceptable to ride roughshod over the strong objections of the local people. The MoD’s own consultation found that the locals are overwhelmingly against cutting up submarines in the heart of their city. Plymouth needs jobs and investment – becoming what is practically a city-centre nuclear waste dump is the opposite of what is needed.”
Notes to Editors:For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.