SNP slam ‘complacent’ MoD over Trident convoy safety lapses

Convoys used to transport nuclear weapons and radioactive waste to and from Ministry of Defence (MoD) bases on the Clyde have suffered 40 safety lapses since 2014, new figures have revealed.

The incidents were logged as operational and engineering issues and posed no threat to public safety, defence bosses said.

But the SNP, who uncovered the data through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, described the lapses as “shocking”.

Up to eight times a year, a convoy of heavy trucks containing weapon materials and nuclear warheads travels between the Aldermaston and Burghfield atomic weapon plants in Berkshire to the Royal Navy base at Coulport, on Loch Long, where the UK’s nuclear weapons are stored.

The MoD insisted the convoys to naval bases on the Clyde did not pose a risk to the public, despite SNP concerns. Picture: Getty

These trucks will often be carrying weapons materials for maintenance or replacement.

The FOI revealed the convoys, which ferry Trident weapons, have suffered 40 safety incidents in the past five years, including problems caused by poor maintenance.

Nationalist MSP Bill Kidd SNP warned that “MoD complacency” while transporting nuclear bombs could be catastrophic.

The SNP has long campaigned for the removal of nuclear weapons from the Clyde.

“People will be shocked to learn that Scotland’s roads are regularly being used by military convoys with nuclear warheads on board,” Mr Kidd said.

“Any one of these safety lapses is concerning, but people will be surprised these issues are so common.

“It is bad enough that Scotland is forced to house these weapons of mass destruction, but these safety incidents are deeply worrying. There must be absolutely no complacency when it comes to handling nuclear weapons.

“The MoD has a history of secrecy, complacency and reluctance to report its faults – safety lapses such as these simply cannot be swept under the rug.”

A spokesman for the MoD said: “Public safety is our absolute priority and robust arrangements are in place to ensure the safety and security of all convoys.

“The incidents reported include minor issues such as replacing a windscreen wiper blade on a single vehicle in a 20-vehicle convoy. This demonstrates that, regardless of how minor the occurrence, every incident is recorded.

“None of these reported occurrences posed any risk to the public.”