AN important conference on the threat to safety posed by Britain’s nuclear submarines and nuclear industry will take place in Helensburgh on Saturday.

Organised by Helensburgh CND, the conference will take place in Helensburgh Parish Church Hall in Colquhoun Street, with a 10.30am for 11am start.

The title of the conference clearly sets out the agenda for the day – Scotland Endangered: The Hazards of Nuclear. The event will feature talks from experts on several aspects of the nuclear industry and Britain’s nuclear submarines – the nearby Clyde Submarine Base already hosts the four Trident missile subs and will soon host all 11 Royal Navy nuclear submarines.

Scottish CND chairman Arthur West will open the conference, before the showing of a powerful short film, Benchmark 6 by David Newbigging, which depicts a disaster aboard a Trident sub in the Firth of Clyde.

The event will consist of four sessions, the first on transportation, chaired by columnist and broadcaster Ruth Wishart and featuring talks by investigative journalist Rob Edwards and Tor Justad of Highlands Against Nuclear Transport.

After lunch the conference will discuss contamination and will see Dumped At Sea by Alonso Latrina, a film about nuclear waste disposal. One of the most eagerly awaited sections will feature Dr Ian Fairlie, the respected independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment.

Scottish CND vice-chairman Isobel Lindsay will chair a session on degradation, featuring David Cullen of the Nuclear Information Service and Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire. Helensburgh CND convener Ellen Renton said: “Last year’s conference looked at Life After Trident. This year we thought we would look at a totally different aspect of Trident, nuclear submarines and the nuclear industry in general – namely the inherent lack of safety around nuclear. The first session will show how there continues to be all kinds of issues around the transportation of nuclear material and not just on the roads but our trains, too.

“As Rob Edwards has shown on many occasions, there are lots of accidents on the convoys carrying nuclear material, but local authorities never make people aware of the dangers.”

Renton says the “spin” put out by the UK Government, and particularly the Ministry of Defence, plays down the dangers of nuclear missiles and submarines. “Every so often there will be an accident or a problem,” she said, “and there might be a hoohah in the papers for a few days, but, overall, people don’t get to see the big picture about what it actually means for Scotland to be hosting these weapons.

“I hope we will also be able to look at the cost of nuclear capability, which is absolutely eye-watering. We could be doing something a whole lot better with that money and I have no doubt there is an impact on safety by the Government cutting costs.”

Asked if Helensburgh CND suffers any local reaction from people working at the Naval base, Renton said: “Not really – the buses we see passing taking workers back and forward to the base are from further afield such as Dumbarton and Glasgow. What Helensburgh has is effectively a rival township right on its doorstep that is completely self-contained. The only reason the service people have to come into Helensburgh is to catch the train home, and even that might stop as they are talking about extending a rail link.”

Meanwhile, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, is visiting Scotland today.

Beatrice Fihn will meet External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop, before joining a vigil at the Faslane naval base, where she will be welcomed by 14-year-old piper Emma Montgomery.