This is about raising public awareness and understanding, registering Nuclear Warhead Convoys as an issue of concern with local elected representatives and official bodies, and building a local network for monitoring, tracking, protesting and lobbying.
Each locality is unique. Things work in one place that don’t in another. These ideas are not separate initiatives, they all feed into each other and there is no priority order in the listing…
Get into Dialogue with Local Authorities over the additional risks caused by “continuous running”. The Model letter to Emergency Planning Officers (EPO) is a good start in the current situation.
Local Authorities along convoy routes and near fixed sites, in co-operation with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), are required to make contingency plans to deal with a nuclear accident. The MoD issues Local Authorities Emergency Services Information (LAESI) Guidelines to cover emergency arrangements for road accidents involving the transport of nuclear weapons, nuclear materials and new fuel for nuclear submarines.
It is unlikely that local planners will have adequately addressed the long-term consequences of the contamination of land and property, in the event of a nuclear transport accident. Local Authorities and the Emergency Services are not forewarned of nuclear convoy movements within their area, whether on land, sea or air.
Under the LAESI guidelines, Local Authorities and the Emergency Services are asked to commit themselves to provide a service and level of care that they cannot actually deliver – inviting litigation against them from injured parties.
Along with contacting the EPO it would be advisable to make parallel contact with local elected members (check whether local council is a member of Nuclear Free Local Authorities) and member(s) of parliament. Offer them briefings and updates. Note that many Local Authorities have only part-time Emergency Planning Officers.
Dialogue with Other Local Official Bodies may also be fruitful. Consider dropping into relevant fire stations, ask to speak to the duty officer and leave some leaflets. Contact the public/community health team on the local board. They may wish to be on an alert list. Write to all parish/community councils in the area offering a short presentation.
Marking the Routes – Displaying signs along the convoy route is an effective way to raise public awareness. Maybe add a safety warning to drive extra carefully in case nuclear warheads are on the road. Asking people to look out for convoys and to let Nukewatch know if they see one. Leaflets can be left at local truck stops so that lorry drivers can contact NW if they see a convoy. Display a map in the town centre showing which parts of the town are at risk.
Road-Side Protests – can be very effective in raising public awareness when a convoy is passing or is due. Simple message banners and placards will often give motorists a quickly and safely digested message.
Film Screenings – Organise a screening of the Camcorder Guerillas film about Nukewatch to raise awareness of the convoy passing through your community. The film includes interviews with grass roots activists, environmental journalists, and international disarmament experts as well as local authorities and fire services about the dangers and illegalities of this deadly cargo. The film can be used as an educational tool in schools and colleges. If you would like a speaker to come along to the screening that can be arranged. The film DVD includes an Action Pack, full of useful info and Exhibition Materials to accompany the screening and provides insight into an issue usually well hidden from the public. Leaflets about the film are available for anyone who is able to help distribute the film within your local area, or to your local authority.
Local Media – All the above activities can lead to helpful coverage. One local paper recently went so far as to include the contact number for people to phone if they spotted a convoy. Local papers will also (on occasions) print your photographs so having a reasonable digital camera at roadside protests is advised. Local radio has also great potential. For a listing of local media see www.mediauk.com.
Nukewatch has developed a list of things appropriate and inappropriate for dissemination by the media (including websites). We do not put technical information on the websites such as vehicle number plates and short break locations in lay-bys. We only put out convoy movements in advance to our own network. This also means that we would not alert the media in advance, except to contact known and trusted journalists who might come along to report a convoy passing.
Campaigning against the convoys will be more effective if there is a good meshing between local and national campaigning. Local groups are asked to feedback to the Nukewatch network not only information about the convoy but also progress (or otherwise!) in lobbying work and in other activities.