stag at bay. Glens and bens. Castles and ceilidhs. The familiar shortbread-tin
images of Scotland are clichéd but effective symbols for a country where
tourism is a major earner.
The bonnie, bonnie, banks of Loch Lomond are
famed in song. But few who take the high road towards the “steep steep slopes
of Ben Lomond”, realise that among the traffic hazards they may face en
route are convoys carrying nuclear bombs, which regularly share the same road.
Or that they are a few miles from the biggest arsenal of nuclear bombs in Europe
– Coulport, a short hike away over the moors to Loch Long.
home through the heather-covered hills, our unsuspecting tourist will go through
Glen Fruin, passing hills hollowed out to accommodate a huge NATO arsenal of what
are laughingly called conventional weapons. Arriving at Gareloch, he or she will
be struck by the horrendous sight of Faslane stretched out along the shore of
the loch. This is Britain’s nuclear submarine base. From here Trident boats
sail out threatening unimaginable slaughter to vast numbers, maintaining a continuous
round-the-clock patrol seven days a week, year in, year out.
can be seen on just one brief trip. But all of Scotland is if fact enmeshed with
military bases and facilities. From Thurso in the north, to Dundrennan in the
south, this beautiful land is marred and scarred by the works of the military.
Ultra-low flying aircraft, live shelling, radioactive pollution, and environmental
damage take their toll. The price Scotland pays for our Faustian bargain with
the MoD is a degraded and abused land, polluted waters, and an economy heavily
biased towards the military to the detriment of socially productive activities.
Perhaps the Scottish Tourist Board should take a more positive attitude
towards the bases, and promote these as attractions. Bus tours round our nuclear
arsenal; sailing “doon the watter” on a Trident submarine; bouncy
castles in the bases – all that sort of thing. With miles and miles of weld-mesh
fences and razor wire, armed guards and watch dogs Faslane and Coulport are not
exactly “Granny’s Hielan’ Hame”, more Brigadoom than Brigadoon,
but what the heck.
Most Scots are blissfully unaware of the extent to
which their land is occupied and abused by the military, and there has long been
a great need for public education on this matter. This pamphlet, Fortress Scotland
2004, published by Scottish CND will provide much needed information on bases.
It is valuable to all who are concerned about this land, and is a vital tool for
Meanwhile the tourist standing in dismay in front of
the monstrous carbuncle on the Gareloch can turn round and see opposite it, Faslane
Peace Camp, an ever present witness of unyielding opposition to Britain’s
illegal nuclear WMD.
Our visitor can take comfort from the knowledge that
here, and all over Scotland, there are folk working towards that happy day when
the bases are gone, and the land and waters are healed; when this book will be
an item of historical interest, a museum piece.
Till then, it is essential
that folk read it, and are moved to action by it.