BAIRNS not Bombs was one of the galvanising messages of the independence movement in the run-up to the 2014 referendum.

The slogan was about so much more than nuclear weapons of mass destruction. It was a totem for the widespread opposition to nuclear technology and its dangerous impact on our country and the planet.

Had Yes won in 2014, the regulation of all nuclear activity would now rest with an independent Scottish state and its parliamentarians. It would be us who would decide what was safe and what was not.

We would decide the timetable for the removal of WMDs from Scottish shores and we would have the authority to decide what role, if any, nuclear would play in the energy mix of a Scotland replete with vast reserves of wind, hydro, wave and tidal, not to mention the legacy oil and gas in our territorial waters that are propping up the UK Treasury.

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But we didn’t prevail and the independence cause has found itself parked up a cul-de-sac for nearly a decade. In that time the nuclear ambitions of the British state have rolled ever onwards, much to the chagrin of a Scottish public which overwhelmingly rejects the imposition of WMDs on Scotland. This absence of control has real implications for every one of us.

In my own constituency, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, it has been an uphill struggle to get radiation contamination from the Second World War removed from the foreshore of Dalgety Bay. Despite one of my predecessors being a UK prime minister who acknowledged that responsibility sat squarely with the Ministry of Defence, it has dragged its heels since the 1990s and continues to deny liability.

As the MP who finally secured the multi-million-pound remediation exercise, it is deeply frustrating that the MoD have left the local sailing club to carry the can should any further contaminant surface. That is just not good enough.

Next door in Douglas Chapman’s Dunfermline and West Fife constituency, the rotting hulks of Dreadnought subs retired in the 1980s have been rusting at Rosyth for longer than they were in service. It costs £30 million a year to maintain their “storage” and future dismantling costs of the redundant fleet is expected exceed a further £3 billion.

The National: Trident

Again, MoD ministers have dragged their heels for decades and the most radioactive parts, the reactors, are not due to be dismantled until 2025-26. Then, of course, we come to the UK’s Trident nuclear WMD programme. I’ve been raising concerns about Trident and subsidiary issues with the UK Government since entering Parliament and recently led an adjournment debate directly addressing the Trident programme.

When I opened the debate, I did so in a spirit of honesty, truth, and transparency – all conspicuous by their absence in most of the responses I have had from the MoD over mounting concerns related to the UK’s WMD programme.

Despite directly appealing to MoD Minister James Cartlidge for an earnest response to the points I would be raising, he chose to avoid the concerns with the hackneyed “nukes are good” sales pitch.

The costs of the UK’s nuclear ambitions, be they human or financial, are enormous. Vast sums of money are taken from Scots’ taxes to pay for the UK Government’s global power posturing which could be put to far better use to improve the lives of our people.

In today’s prices the Trident programme cost about £21bn plus running costs of circa £3bn a year. The estimated cost of the replacement Dreadnought class submarines is an eyewatering £31bn, plus a further £10bn in contingency and in-service costs.

Even the National Audit Office has raised concerns over the affordability of the Ministry’s overall equipment plan. But these astronomical figures continue to be spent on our behalf.

I raised three pressing concerns surrounding Trident and its replacement that the MoD steadfastly refuse to address, firstly, the dangers of radiation exposure and nuclear safety in Scotland.

In 2022 following revelations from a whistleblower at the Coulport armaments depot, it emerged that there was an emergency evacuation at the site because of a radiation leak. The MoD initially denied there had been any such “serious” leak, but it eventually emerged that this denial was fallacious. In response to my written parliamentary question about radiation breaches at HMNB Clyde and RNAD Coulport, it was revealed that there were 15 recorded radiation leaks at Coulport and a further 43 at Faslane in 2023 alone. Although the MoD insist that none were considered “serious”, how they define “serious” remains opaque.

The Alba Party recently submitted a Freedom of Information request asking how many convoys there has been each year for the last five years carrying materials from Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston to Coulport. The Mod invoked Article 24 (National Security) and Article 26 (Defence) of the Information Act 2000 to deny this most basic of facts to the people of Scotland and our Government.

Secondly, I raised mounting concerns about the safety and preparedness of the existing submarine fleet in the wake of Dominic Cummings alleging it is a “dangerous and rotting” state.

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These nuclear-powered and WMD-armed submarines are failing in seaworthiness and struggling under increased operational pressure.

This is evidenced by the near-calamitous malfunctioning of a vital depth gauge, the more than doubling of three-month periods of deployment, missing exterior tiles and extensive marine growth. Coupling that with the sketchy information on radiation leaks, I asked the minister why the people of Scotland should trust the MoD to take our safety seriously.

Despite his tiresome assertions to the contrary, as with so much else the jobs, the growth, the capital, are directed anywhere but Scotland. There simply is no upside to hosting this abomination in Scotland.

And lastly, because of all the above it is abundantly clear that an independent Scotland has so much to gain by removing the UK’s nuclear arsenal from its waters and that must be our unshakeable resolve from day one of independence.