SNP anger at £1.3bn cost to replace Trident at Scots bases

A general view of Faslane Naval Base on the Gare Loch. Picture; Getty
A general view of Faslane Naval Base on the Gare Loch. Picture; Getty
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A row has erupted after an MoD document revealed that £1.3 billion is to be spent on getting the Faslane and Coulport bases ready for the Trident replacement.

The taxpayers’ cash is to be spent over the next ten years, according to the document, which gives details of the work required to house the next generation of submarines and their nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

The figure came to light in a paper titled “Defence Infrastructure Organisation: Procurement Plan September 2016”, which was put on the MoD website but has since been taken down.

The document referred to “The Clyde Programme”, a ten-year project taking place at the Faslane submarine base and at Coulport, the storage and loading facility for the Trident warheads.

The MoD intends to have a “market day” early next year to attract contractors to the project.

The document says: “The Clyde Programme comprises a number of projects with a combined value of circa £1.3bn over a period of ten years. The programme includes a wide spectrum of project types ranging from relatively simple standalone new-build projects in lower security areas (eg accommodation and training facilities) to highly complex refurbishment projects on nuclear infrastructure in high security and operational areas. All works are located in either Faslane or Coulport.”

The £1.3bn price tag infuriated the SNP, which is a staunch believer in nuclear disarmament.

Brendan O’Hara, SNP defence spokesman, said: “Trident renewal is veering out of any financial control and the plunge in sterling, because of the disastrous Brexit vote, is adding to the already astronomical costs.

“A billion here, a billion there, and before you know it conventional defence spending, already cut to the bone, is squeezed even more because of the Tories’ utter incompetence.

“They are obsessed with their nuclear weapons of mass destruction, it seems at any cost and at any damage to our defence, despite the fact that 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs voted to stop it dead in its tracks.”

The investment was defended by the Scottish Conservatives, who argued that a nuclear deterrent was necessary and pointed to the thousands of jobs supported by Faslane.

Shadow secretary for the economy, Dean Lockhart said: “This will help secure the thousands of jobs that are based at Faslane. For the SNP to describe it as a waste is simply ludicrous, and shows that they are willing to put their partisan agenda ahead of the needs of all of those working at the base.”

In June this year MPs backed the renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system by 472 votes to 117. The vote approved the manufacture of four Successor class submarines to replace the existing Vanguard vessels at a cost of £31 billion.They will come into service in 2028.

An MoD spokesman said: “Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and to benefit from both the vital security and employment benefits provided by our nuclear deterrent. Whilst this document is a work-in-progress, Scotland will be home to all of the Royal Navy’s submarines by 2020 and sites like HM Naval Base Clyde will remain amongst the largest employment sites in Scotland.”