By David Mackenzie
Did you know that nuclear warheads are regularly transported for hundreds of miles along UK roads? They are carried in large trucks between the warhead factory in Berkshire and the nuclear weapon submarine base at Coulport on Loch Long, where they are loaded onto the boats' missiles. The warheads need regular maintenance which can only be done at the atomic weapon factories in Aldermaston and Burghfield.
The trucks are escorted by a large number of police and military vehicles. When loaded the trucks will each carry two Trident nuclear bombs. Although these warhead are unarmed during transport they contain both high explosive and plutonium. In the case of an accident it is possible that the high explosive could be detonated and that could lead to the dispersal of plutonium fragments over a wide area. If ingested by the body plutonium particles are likely to cause cancer. While the chances of such an accident may be slim, the outcome would be catastrophic. The Ministry of Defence recognises the serious risk that the convoys present but claims that it is justified by the need to maintain the UK's nuclear weapon system.
The convoys use the M74, the A68 and the A1 to cross southern Scotland, before travelling by Stirling or Glasgow to reach Coulport. They regularly use the Edinburgh by-pass and take breaks inside Glencorse barracks in Penicuik. Defence is of course a matter reserved to Westminster but councils and other authorities (and ultimately the Scottish government) have duties under the Civil Contingencies Act to assess risks to the community and keep the public informed. Currently they are largely failing in that duty. After considerable pressure, the publication of Nukewatch's “Unready Scotland”, and a members' debate in Holyrood the Scottish government undertook a review of convoy safety.
This was published in June 2019. While this was a commendable step forward the review itself suffers from critical flaws. Nukewatch is currently seeking a meeting with Community Safety Minister Ash Denham to raise its continuing concern.
This is not just about the safety of our communities. Our Scottish roads are being used to make possible the deployment of hideous weapons of mass destruction that threaten all of humanity and the planet itself.
Nukewatch UK monitors these convoys with help from people like you.
Nukewatch are then able to keep MP’s, MSP’s, journalists, local communities, and councillors informed of what’s passing through their towns.
If you see a convoy on the move or passing by your house – Be ready to phone us by having our numbers already on your phone:
0345 45 88 365
or 07796 226488