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MOD Admit Scottish Ministers Could Block Trident

Plans to refurbish the Clyde naval bases to accommodate a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system could be stymied by Scottish Ministers, according to an internal memo from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

A new dry dock for servicing nuclear submarines would require planning permission while other developments would be subject to a raft of pollution controls. These are all the responsibility of the Scottish Government, not Westminster.

Plans to refurbish the Clyde naval bases to accommodate a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system could be stymied by Scottish Ministers, according to an internal memo from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

A new dry dock for servicing nuclear submarines would require planning permission while other developments would be subject to a raft of pollution controls. These are all the responsibility of the Scottish Government, not Westminster.

A MoD email from 25 June this year, released under Freedom of Information law, makes it clear that there are a series of potential barriers to any Trident developments at the Faslane and Coulport bases, near Helensburgh.

Any major development is almost bound to require planning permission from the local authority, and its construction and use would be subject to pollution controls administered by SEPA. In both cases Scottish Ministers would have the ultimate power to say yes or no.

A new dry dock may be needed because the shiplift that is currently used to service submarines is ageing and may not meet future safety requirements. In 2001 expert consultants said that the shiplift was only guaranteed to be safe up to 2011.

Scottish CND which obtained the email from the MoD, was fascinated to learn that a new dry dock was under consideration. "The existing shiplift has been fraught with problems and only has safety clearance for the next 4 years," said the campaign's co-ordinator, John Ainslie.

"A new dry dock would be a major development. It would need planning permission and an Environmental Impact Assessment. The Scottish Government could use their planning power to stop its construction."

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