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Report from Members Debate in Holyrood – 2 May 2018, Civil Contingency in Nuclear Weapon Transport

For over an hour the Scottish Parliament discussed nuclear weapons convoys in a debate raised by

Mark Ruskell MSP from the Scottish Greens. It was a members debate which comes after decision

time so most members leave then but 22 stayed to listen and contribute.

Mark Ruskell introduced the motion and thanked David Mackenzie and Jane Tallents for the Unready

Scotland report and paid tribute to the work of the Nukewatch network. He explained why the

hazards of nuclear weapons transport are so unique and the results of a survey of Scottish Local

Authorities by him which showed that none of them had conducted risk assessments or informed

the public. He said that the current devolution settlement laid responsibility for community safety

with the Scottish Government under the Civil Contingencies Act 2014 and called for them to hold a

review of civil authorities plans for a convoy accident.

Bill Kidd (SNP) said no one should be ignorant of what these convoys carry and called for the

minister to consider setting up a group to conduct a review.

 

Edward Mountain, Conservative, set out a number of facts as he saw them. Basically be believes

that the warheads are safe to transport, security is high, contingency plans are in place and all civil

authorities are consulted before a convoy begins its journey.

Claudia Beamish from Labour said she was concerned about the failure of local authorities to ensure

compliance with the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and called on the Minister to highlight how civilian

partnerships were interlinked and she called for a review.

Clare Haughey (SNP), Gordon MacDonald (SNP), Bruce Crawford (SNP), Tom Arthur (SNP) all spoke

about concerns of convoys through or near to their constituentcies, made lots of good points and

called for action from the Minister.

Maurice Cory (Con) said that the public has nothing to fear and in an incident the convoy

commander would take charge. He did however commend to the Minister that she look at the

exercises around Faslane as an example of informing the public and progress that elsewhere.

Ross Greer (Green) said that a warhead in transit equates to the most powerful and dangerous dirty

bomb imaginable and that all public bodies that are category 1 responders should be prepared. He

hoped that the debate would prompt councils to live up to their responsibilities.

At the end Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, replied for the

government.

She said that the three resilience partnerships regularly undertake a risk and preparedness

assessment process which enables them to identify and assess the main risks that are relevant to

their regions and determine how prepared they are to deal with the consequences of those risks. In

response to an intervention from Mark Ruskell she said that those specifically include assessment

and planning regarding nuclear convoys.

 

However she said she would write to HM Inspectorate of the Constabulary and HM Fire Service

Inspectorate in Scotland to request a joint review of the resilience work of Police Scotland and the

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to look at “how they work with local authorities and the other

responders in Scotland’s regional resilience partnerships to ensure that response arrangements are

indeed up to date and current, because we all want to have that assurance.”

 

The full transcript is available at

http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11499

Unready Scotland Report available here.

Nukewatch comment. We are very pleased that the Scottish Parliament spent an hour

discussing our concerns about the risks of nuclear weapons convoys on our roads and the

lack of public information about any emergency plans to deal with a serious incident. It is

encouraging to see how many MSPs are well informed and truly represent their constituents

by calling for a review of the arrangements that would be in place should the worst happen.

The Ministers request that Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service conduct

a review is progress and may ultimately lead to greater awareness of nuclear weapons

transport and the risks involved.

There are still many questions and much work to do. More information at

http://www.nukewatch.org.uk

AND if you see a convoy PLEASE ring Nukewatch on 0345 4588 365 immediately.

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