Faslane protest: Anti-Trident activists arrested

DOZENS of anti-nuclear protesters were arrested during a demonstration at the Faslane naval base aimed to coincide with the run-up to May’s election.

An demonstrator sits in the road to block the entrance to HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane. Picture: PA

The Scrap Trident Coalition’s Bairns Not Bombs demonstration yesterday aimed to shut down the base which is home to the nuclear weapons system, with the police estimating that about 200 people took part in the protest.

A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed that 34 people had been arrested, including protesters who chained themselves together outside the gate ahead of a shift change at the base.

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Officers used cutting equipment to release protesters who blocked the road by chaining themselves together, with it reportedly taking approximately 40 minutes, and in one case two and a half hours, to release each person.

The blockade was part of a series of events organised by Scrap Trident to focus attention on the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the run-up to the general election on 7 May.

Labour and the Conservatives have both backed the retention of Trident, with the SNP and the Greens calling on the UK government to abandon plans to replace the four Trident submarines at Faslane.

The Liberal Democrats have said it is “extremely expensive and unnecessary” to replace all the submarines and have proposed fewer vessels.

Faslane officials said the operational output of the base was not affected by the protest due to contingency plans being put in place. Police Scotland arrested 32 people at the gates to the base while Ministry of Defence police made a further two arrests.

Anti nuclear activists at Faslane. Picture: Getty

Protest organisers described the day as a “huge success” with about 250 people taking part in the demonstration between 7am and 3pm.

A Scrap Trident spokesman said: “We are delighted that, in spite of a big police presence, people have been able to peacefully and imaginatively shut down the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] base, putting their bodies on the line in their utter rejection of what Trident represents.”

Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Greens and MSP for Glasgow, was among those taking part.

He said: “Trident is an obscenity. Through direct action and through the ballot box we can make the case for the UK to play a new role on the world stage. By pursuing peace, a global deal on climate change and ending the arms trade we can stand tall rather than clinging to outdated and dangerous status symbols.”

SNP MSP Bill Kidd added there was growing support for scrapping Trident and an end to the “immoral weapons of mass destruction”.

He said: “We all know that Trident is morally unjustifiable, but at a time when each of the Westminster parties are committed to more cuts, and more and more people are being forced to rely on foodbanks, Trident is economically indefensible as well.”

The nuclear weapons system came to the fore of the campaign last week after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed that a Conservative government would go ahead with the construction of four new Trident nuclear missile submarines to replace the existing fleet of ageing Vanguard-class boats.

He warned that the deterrent would be put at risk by the prospect of Labour entering a pact with the SNP. But Mr Miliband insisted Labour is fully committed to Trident renewal.