DEFENCE Secretary Michael Fallon is being urged to stop convoys carrying nuclear bombs travelling through Scottish towns and cities after fears they are a danger to the public.

The SNP’s Bruce Crawford has written to Fallon calling for an immediate halt to the operations after four HGVs transporting warheads drove through the Central Belt earlier this month, heading to the Royal Naval base on the Clyde and returned down south by the same route at the weekend despite hazardous driving conditions because of heavy snow.

In his letter Crawford said: “It is unacceptable for weapons of mass destruction like this to travel through public areas – the repercussions of any accident could have been absolutely devastating.

“With that in mind, I am calling for an immediate halt to the transportation of nuclear weapons through densely populated areas, and in the meantime, I would be grateful if you could detail the measures taken by the MoD to ensure that the safety of the public is not compromised.”

Crawford took the action after it emerged a nuclear convoy travelled along the M74, passing Hamilton and Motherwell, before heading onto the M73 passing Baillieston in Glasgow, and then onto the M80 passing Cumbernauld and Stirling before reaching the nuclear weapon store at Coulport on January 9.

The convoy made the return journey to the south of England on Saturday, according to the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which tracked both the journeys.

John Ainslie, co-ordinator for Scottish CND, said there was no safe way to transport nuclear warheads, but it was particularly “callous” of the MoD to allow the convoy to make the journey through heavy snow.

“Once again the MoD have shown their callous disregard for public safety by driving these weapons of mass destruction through Central Scotland in a snow storm,” he said.

Ainslie added he could not be certain there were warheads on board at the weekend, but said it was “highly likely”. He told The National: “There is no safe way to move nuclear weapons. “The only safe policy on nuclear weapons is not to have them. They are intrinsically hazardous.”

Ainslie said explosions from the bombs on board the lorries in the event of a crash or a terrorist attack as well as leaks of radioactive material such as plutonium and uranium were the main risks to the public.

He added: “Sometimes the debate about nuclear weapons can seem quite abstract, but these are not abstract concepts. These are bits of metal and explosive radioactive chemicals which are driven in some cases yards away from people’s front doors. The reality hits home when you see the convoys and the blue flashing lights driving past people out playing and building snowmen with their children.”

Ainslie said the convoys were carrying upgraded warheads from a bomb factory in Burghfield, Berkshire to the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport on Loch Long. Convoys also took warheads needed to be modified from Coulport to the Berkshire factory.

Ainslie said a special facility at Coulport was the only place in the UK nuclear warheads could be loaded onto the missiles on the submarines.

“Putting the nuclear warheads on to the missiles is extremely hazardous. It only takes place at the explosives’ handling jetty in Coulport, a remote multi-million pound facility in Loch Long.”

Crawford referred to a debate in the Scottish Parliament last year which saw SNP, Labour and Green MSPs unite against the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system and added that the convoys were a further reason in favour of rejecting them.

“The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people have made clear our opposition to weapons of mass destruction being based on the Clyde – and the risk to the public from these convoys simply shows the utter folly of basing nuclear weapons just 30 miles from Scotland’s largest population centre,” he said.

“Of course, the fact is that the only way to fully guarantee public safety is to remove these immoral, strategically useless weapons once and for all – and the SNP will continue to fight every step of the way against spending £167bn on weapons of mass destruction.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman insisted the nuclear convoys operated safely and were accompanied by MoD police. He added: “It is MoD policy not to comment on the specific routes used by convoys due to the need to protect national security. The safety of the public is always our priority and the safety and security of the convoy is carefully considered at all stages of the process and all routes are regularly reassessed.

“We always take into account factors such as road and weather conditions and consult with all relevant local agencies, including Traffic Scotland and Police Scotland.”

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