THE SNP are poised for a major debate at next week’s party conference over the speed at which Trident should be removed from Scotland after independence.

CND activists in the party – backed by Nicola Sturgeon’s own Glasgow Southside constituency – want a three-year timetable to be fixed for an independent Scottish Government to scrap the nuclear submarines and weapons from the Clyde.

An opposing amendment has been lodged questioning that timeframe, proposing a less precise wording over how quickly Trident should go.

Some SNP members argue it is too early to set a firm timetable for removal, and believe that Trident can be used as a bargaining chip in independence negotiations.

The motion and amendment have been published in the final version of the SNP’s conference agenda.

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“Conference notes the endorsement of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) by all SNP Candidates in the 2021 Scottish Parliament Election as outlined in the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge.

“Consequently, and in line with the provisions of the TPNW, Conference calls upon a future SNP Government of an Independent Scotland to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland within three years,” the resolution states.

The amendment, put down by the party’s Castle Douglas and Glenkens branches, reads: “Delete ‘to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland within three years’ and replace with ‘start the practical work to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland within three years’.”

The debate is due to take place on Sunday, September 12 at the SNP conference, due to be held online.

The party has been working on a road map to move nuclear warheads and submarines from the Clyde and drawing up defence diversification plans which include using the Faslane naval base as the headquarters for an independent Scotland’s conventional military in part to cushion the economic impact of Trident’s withdrawal.

One estimate by the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University indicated that the Ministry of Defence employed 4700 people in Argyll and Bute, accounting for 34% of the total local jobs.

The National: HMS Trenchant sailed into Devonport for the last time before being de-commissioned later this year.

Removing the weapons would pose a huge headache for the UK Government. Alternative sites that have been suggested for the nuclear submarines before include Devonport in Plymouth and Milford Haven in Wales but none is as well situated as Faslane with its rapid access directly into the Irish Sea and the north Atlantic. Other options floated include France and the United States.

A further option, which has been set out in Westminster Government plans, is for the UK to lease Faslane from an independent Scotland.

Any such funds could bring in enough revenue to pay for a planned Scottish Defence Force (SDF) or help pay for other public services in the new state.

The Scottish Government has estimated the cost of the SDF would run to about £2.5 billion, although it has since been suggested the cost could be less than half that.

Speaking last week, Janet Fenton of Scottish CND welcomed the motion and said she expected the SNP conference would accept it with enthusiasm.

She said: “Any Scottish government committing to the UN treaty will be on the right side of international law and have the moral and practical support of the UN and the majority of the world.

“The treaty requires signatory states to remove nuclear weapons from their jurisdiction ‘as soon as possible’. An independent Scotland could be one of them.”

The Trident motion is one of 21 resolutions to be published in the conference’s final agenda.

Other resolutions include topics such as independence, a four-day working week, a national transport company, securing a legacy from COP26 and Scottish citizenship plans for new Scots.

An amendment to a conference motion on the draft referendum bill calling for the party to commit to setting a date for a second independence referendum and provide a concrete definition of what it means for the Covid-19 pandemic to have passed was rejected.

Activists in the party’s Dalkeith branch submitted an amendment but the final agenda for the event does not include the proposal.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will address the conference on Monday, September 13.