Nukewatch UK has published a report UNREADY SCOTLAND : the critical gap in our response to the transport of nuclear weapons.
Based mainly on a survey of local authorities on routes taken by the warhead convoys conducted by MSP Mark Ruskell in the autumn of 2016, this report scrutinises the preparedness of the Scottish civil authorities to deal adequately with any incident or accident involving the convoys that transport the weapons. In Scotland the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) governs the responses of local authorities (and other “Category 1 Responders) to any threat to public safety. The Act requires Category 1 Responders to conduct a risk assessment of potential threats and to keep the public informed. None of the councils surveyed (ie those through which nuclear warheads are transported) conduct risk assessments specifically in respect of nuclear weapon convoys when travelling on their roads. Some councils claim to rely on generic assessments conducted by their local Resilience Partnership. None of the surveyed councils informs their public about the nuclear warhead traffic. There is also no evidence that the Scottish Government has taken any active step to ensure compliance with the Act.
“Unready Scotland” also examines in alarming detail the complex and challenging practicalities that would be posed for the civil authorities in the event of a serious incident such as were envisaged in the major Exercises Senator . The report concludes that there is no evidence that these authorities would be able to cope.
The MOD make it clear that their prime concern would be to secure the weapons themselves, while the Category 1 Responders would have to manage accurate and prompt public information (including countering false stories spreading fast on social media), complex evacuations in highly populated areas, as well as making arrangements for people to take shelter in their own homes. This would all be on a scale that has not been tested in practice. The responses reported make it clear that in this context bland assurances that all is in hand are impossible to accept.
The report points out the need to take account of the changing environment affecting the convoys, such as the rapid growth in social media communication and the recently adopted UN Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. It points out that while defence matters are reserved to Westminster, community safety is wholly devolved to Holyrood. The report concludes by recommending that the Scottish Government carries out an honest and open review of the preparedness of the Scottish civil authorities.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Sign the Petition asking the Scottish Government to conduct a review.
If you live in a Scottish Local Authority area on a convoy route write to your council about their response to the survey.
If you live in England a more general letter to your council with some questions can be found here
Donate to Nukewatch