The real cost of getting rid of Trident from Scotland: £150m

The real cost of getting rid of Trident from Scotland: £150m“, HeraldScotland, 14 July 2013

Westminster warnings that the bill for ridding an independent Scotland of Trident would run into billions have been undermined by revelations that the UK Government previously put the cost at £150 million.

Warnings about the cost of getting rid of the missiles – a major plank of the SNP’s plans in the wake of a Yes vote in the 2014 referendum – were voiced by UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who last week told the House of Commons Defence Select Committee: “It would cost a significant amount of money.” …

But the Sunday Herald can reveal that the cost of dismantling all the UK’s nuclear warheads was officially estimated as being significantly lower – less than £150m – by the MoD in 2006, in answer to an MP asking for a breakdown of the nuclear decommissioning costs.

Westminster could argue that the “tens of billions” figure does not involve dismantling the warheads but rather the decommissioning of Faslane and the costs of rehousing the submarines outside Scotland. However, it is far from clear why the Scottish Government would be expected to pick up any of those costs. Getting rid of Trident can be achieved by the far cheaper option of simply dismantling the weapons.

The difference between the costs has been seized on by the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND), which last year published a four-year timetable for dismantling Trident, endorsed by the Scottish Government and experts.

“Scrapping Trident would be far cheaper than building a new base in England, even if, as is unlikely, the MoD found a suitable site,” said SCND co-ordinator John Ainslie.

“Removing and dismantling the current stockpile of about 200 nuclear warheads would cost less than £150m. In contrast, a new Trident base would cost billions and a replacement for Trident would cost £100 billion over 50 years.”

The warheads could be disabled within one year, removed from Scotland within two and dismantled within four. “Scrapping Trident is not just the right moral choice, it is the cheapest option,” argued Ainslie.

In May, former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix urged the UK to give up Trident, questioning whether the nuclear system was “to protect UK independence or UK pride”.

Read the full article here.