TRIDENT could have to be moved abroad or stopped altogether after Scottish independence, according to a report from a former rear admiral.

John Gower, who served as assistant chief of defence staff in the Ministry of Defence, is the author of a new European Leadership Network paper examining the UK’s nuclear options if Scotland leaves the Union.

Continuing Trident after independence would probably mean calling on help from an ally like the US or France, or stopping the nuclear deterrent altogether, the expert wrote.

The report was published shortly before the May 6 Scottish election, with the SNP on track to be the largest party, and the Greens set to increase their number of MSPs. Alex Salmond’s Alba may also win seats, Panelbase polls predict. All three pro-independence parties are anti-nuclear.

READ MORE: Alba Party candidates join push to have Trident removed from Scotland

With Trident based at Faslane in the west of Scotland, Gower wrote: “A Scottish secession would therefore generate fundamental operational and fiscal issues for the UK’s nuclear deterrent.”

There are few options for basing Trident outside of Scotland, according to the report. Milford Haven in Wales and Falmouth in Cornwall were both highlighted as options when Faslane was first chosen, but now would not be suitable due to industrialisation and an increased population.

The report says it could take years for a new site to be developed and it is likely there would be significant local opposition. Gower described achieving planning permission elsewhere as “testing” or “impossible”.

Basing the weapons at King’s Bay in Georgia, where the UK’s subs go to pick up missiles, or with the French nuclear fleet at Ile Longue in Brittany, are “highly speculative”, the former admiral said.

The UK Government was previously blocked from doing work on the future of Trident in the case of a Yes vote because politicians felt this would be an admission of defeat.

But, according to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament: “If an independent Scotland insisted that Trident must be removed then this would probably result in there being no nuclear weapons in Britain.”

READ MORE: SNP slam Anas Sarwar for 'taking orders from Keir Starmer' on Trident

Despite having signed up to the international treaty on non-proliferation, the UK recently announced it would be raising the cap on the number of nuclear weapons it can stockpile.

According to a Survation poll more than half of Scots do not support the renewal of Trident – while the majority also feel the Scottish Parliament should have the final say over the weapons, as opposed to Westminster.

A UK Government spokesperson said the UK is committed to keeping Trident. “The UK’s nuclear deterrent contributes to Scotland’s security, bringing with it economic benefits and jobs. There are no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from HMNB Clyde.”