News

Moving Trident to Wales ‘ruled out’ as site would be too close to key oil and gas refineries

03 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Milford Haven waterway viewed from Dale. Picture by David Merrett (CC BY 2.0). Trident nuclear submarine. Picture by Robert Sullivan (CC0 1.0).

Moving the Trident nuclear submarine fleet to Milford Haven in Wales in the wake of Scottish independence has been ruled out because of the oil and gas refineries there, according to a government source.

An unnamed minister told the Financial Times that the most favoured site within the UK was now the Devonport naval base on the south coast of England, which already refuels and overhauls the navy’s entire nuclear submarine fleet.

“Several other potential British locations have been ruled out. Milford Haven on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales was vetoed because of the nearby refinery and oil and gas storage facilities,” the newspaper said.

Milford Haven dock is home to one of the biggest Liquid Nitrogen Gas terminals in the world, with a pipeline that stretches across the south of Wales and which plays a key role in the United Kingdom’s energy sector.

The revelation that Wales is out of the running comes after the Times newspaper said that Pembrokeshire was being actively considered by the UK Government as one possible location to house the Trident submarines if they are ejected from Scotland.

The SNP has been working on a road map to move nuclear warheads and submarines from the Clyde, and will debate the issue at next month’s conference.

They have already rejected the idea of allowing the government of what would remain of the UK to retain a ‘nuclear Gibraltar’ – a patch of extraterritorial UK land within the newly sovereign Scotland.

A third possibility was moving Trident to an allied country, thought to be either the United States or France. But the Financial Times quotes the unnamed minister describing a move to France as “totally absurd, a political death warrant”.

‘Impact’

In 2012 then Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said that the Trident nuclear submarines would be “more than welcome” in Wales if they left Scotland.

At question time in the Senedd, Mr Jones suggested the nuclear deterrent could come to Pembrokeshire if forced to move from the Clyde.

The Ministry of Defence employs 4,700 people around the nuclear submarines base in Argyll and Bute, accounting for 34% of the total local jobs.

However, the SNP want them out if independence does happen. All candidates in this year’s Scottish election backed the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

The Labour party in Scotland have criticised the move, saying that the SNP risked losing thousands of jobs, and that simply moving the nuclear weapons would do little for nuclear disarmament.

Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP who represents Dumbarton, said: “The SNP are happy to simply move Trident over the border without a thought for the jobs and the impact on the local economy. They talk about diversification but this has not succeeded in the past and would take much more than three years.”

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Shan Morgain
1 month ago

The Labour party in Scotland says ‘simply moving the nuclear weapons would do little for nuclear disarmament’. Not so. The move would be large and complex, magnetising world attention. It would state clearly, loudly ‘not in our backyard’. No single government or corporation can do more. Only a team effort can go further. But a single strike like this together with others similar, will push towards that team effort.

D Dunlop
D Dunlop
1 month ago

It matters not a jot, then, that 1M people live within 15 mls of Tridents present base on the Clyde. Never mind the Subs, moving, where are the 200 Spare Nuke Warheads, presently bunkered down deep within a hillside at Coulport, going to go, they go where the Subs go. All of the UKs Subs are now based on the Clyde, they’ll be out too, if Indy occurs. 30 Countries in NATO, only 3 are considered Independent Nuclear Powers, USA, UK, France, why should Scotland, a small country of 5.2 M people, be the Nuclear Missles dumping ground for the… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  D Dunlop

With respect, Britain may be “considered” an independent nuclear power but in reality it is not. RN Trident boats come under USN operational control. Missiles are drawn from the common USN pool. Britain’s status as a very obedient US client state ensures the USN gets four well-manned and efficient Trident boats without having to pay for them. Neither Wales nor Scotland ought to consent to this lethal charade.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  John Davies

Agreed, and since we left the EU the UK has become increasingly irrelevant to both the USA and in international affairs generally (see: Special relationship? Afghanistan has revealed how irrelevant the UK has become | Peter Ricketts | The Guardian).

I suppose it’s possible that the UK may end up losing its ‘status’ as a nuclear power if the USA decides that it is no longer in their interests to maintain this fiction.

France’s nuclear deterrent is at least independent in that they developed their own warheads, missiles and submarines. The UK’s deterrent is entirely dependent on America.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Dafadau

So, according to the article you posted, the missiles are leased from the USA. In other words the USA own them and the UK rents them because the UK can’t afford to buy them outright. The USA also carries out the maintenance on the missiles because the UK can’t afford to do so on its own. Also, the UK uses Trident because the UK couldn’t afford to develop its own system and will be using the USA’s replacement for Trident because the UK can’t afford to develop its own replacement. On top of that the UK’s Vanguard submarines are essentially… Read more »

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
1 month ago

The jobs issue is a long running dispute. Politicians claim up to 11,000 but the MoD was forced to respond to a FOI request with; “There are 520 civilian jobs at HM Naval Base Clyde, including Coulport and Faslane, that directly rely upon the Trident programme.”

AyeB
AyeB
1 month ago
Reply to  Kerry Davies

Those 520 jobs will go wherever Trident goes & plan is to increase number of staff @ Faslane when Scotland is independent. Base is @ this time is self contained, isolated from local economy – ignore what Labour say. Milford Haven known to be unsuitable & unless a base is being built on south coast of England Trident is leaving UK

Geoffrey ap.
Geoffrey ap.
1 month ago

The response seems to me is based on an assumption that the military is the property of England, whereas we should be looking at establishing what belongs to Scotland. In the fullness of time, when we achieve our freedom, we will have to do likewise.
At present it’s the UK military and is proportionally the property of the four countries.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffrey ap.

Too true, Wales has appox. 5% of the UK’s population so if we go independent we should ask for 5% of everything that belongs to the UK – so 5% of overseas embassies, military bases, military hardware, the crown jewels, the contents of the British Museum, Westminster government offices etc. etc. Either that or England should pay us off.

John Davies
John Davies
1 month ago

Moving Trident to Wales would be the most enormous construction project. They’d need to establish a complete dockyard with admin and accommodation for crews when ashore, repair and maintenance workshops, at least basic facilities for maintaining the boats’ nuclear reactors (most of that is done at Rosyth and Devonport at the moment) plus secure bunker storage for missiles and the bombs ashore. The political uproar would be enormous and the construction costs would be immense (all major engineering projects go over time and over budget) so we’re talking about a 20 year time horizon at least, by which time, if… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by John Davies
j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

Would housing their own WMD’s focus English minds? After all, they currently have that fake security distance between Thames and Clyde.

Gilbyn
Gilbyn
1 month ago

Well tickle me pink, maybe there’s an advantage to being Qatar’s bitch after all.

Sian
Sian
1 month ago

Get rid of Trident altogether and invest in training and skills for a well paid workforce in a greener economy. In the meantime thank goodness it’s not coming to Wales. As for Scottish Labour, shame on you, it mustn’t be jobs at any cost, no wonder the SNP have done so well
.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Moving them out of Scotland would also make Scotland less of a target in the event of a war. Just another reason why we wouldn’t want them in Wales. If the English voters want them then put the English voters in the crosshairs.

Personally I think the UK government should just give up pretending that this is in any way an independent nuclear deterrent and base them in America and have American crews. The reality is that the UK can’t operate the Trident subs without America.

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