Defence cuts 'raise nuclear safety fears at Faslane'

Politicians are demanding answers from the Ministry of Defence after documents revealed fears over safety at Faslane nuclear base on the Clyde as a result of spending cuts

One of Britain's nuclear submarines makes its way down the Clyde after leaving the Faslane base Picture: Getty Images

A report by the MoD's internal watchdog, the Defence Nuclear Environment Safety Board, released under Freedom of Information laws, warned of the difficulty of maintaining the safety of staff, the public and the environment in the face of continuing defence cuts.

Ministers are now facing calls to give safety guarantees.

The report states: "It will become increasingly difficult to maintain that the defence nuclear programmes are being managed with due regard for the protection of the workforce, the public and the environment.

"The principal threats to safety in the defence nuclear programmes in the medium term are the adequacy of resources, both money and staff complement, and the maintenance of a sustainable cadre of suitably competent staff."

John Large, a nuclear energy expert, said a radioactive leak at the submarine base - home to the UK's nuclear weapons - could lead to a mass evacuation of civilians. He said: "If you had a major radioactive release, you might be required to evacuate people, depending on weather conditions, from 18.6 miles to 31 miles and beyond."

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "People will be extremely concerned that the MoD itself is warning that government defence cuts are putting nuclear safety in jeopardy."

The MoD said: "Royal Navy nuclear submarines have an outstanding safety record over nearly 50 years of operations. We are determined to maintain this record and continue to seek further improvements."

Back to the top of the page