Scotland’s debt to Faslane base

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ALEX Orr (Letters, 17 February) accuses me of bizarre and inaccurate statements. In reference to the beginnings of the Faslane nuclear base (1962/3 on), the successive Conservative and Labour governments responsible had the support of 37 per cent, 38 per cent and 38 per cent of the Scottish electorate. Bizarre as Mr Orr may think it I still maintain that these numbers are greater than the 23 per cent obtained by the present Scottish Government.

I did not say Trident is at worst financially neutral but that an honest assessment might find it to be so. I will give it a superficial try. Dounreay and Chapelcross also owed their foundation entirely to the UK nuclear weapons programme, producing materials for Polaris/Trident, so all jobs associated with these, even non-weapons-related, must be combined with those at Faslane in assessing employment arising from that programme. At a rough guess I would estimate over 200,000 man-years of on-site employment. Add to that other supplies and services and spin-offs from these hi-tech sites. A major one of the last mentioned is over 50 TWh of electricity which must have made a major contribution to Scotland’s economy. Employment at Dounreay and Chapelcross is much reduced but many redundant staff will be making a positive contribution elsewhere and there will be hundreds of retirees spending their site-earned pensions in needy rural communities.

Fair-minded people with a little knowledge would agree that the nuclear programme was not “dumped” on Scotland nor did it deprive us of resources which would have “created” thousands of other jobs as Mr Orr asserts – quite the reverse perhaps.

Dr A McCormick, Dumfries