Falmouth nuclear arms store option rears its head again
Plans to build a nuclear warhead store on land north of Falmouth have reared their ugly head again this week as defence experts debate the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
Earlier this year, the Packet reported the concerns of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) that proposals first put forward in the 1960’s may be revived in the wake of Scottish Independence.
Although rejected at the time on the grounds of expense and possible environmental damage, the proposals would see Flushing and Mylor Churchtown evacuated to make way for the warhead store.
If Scotland were to split from the rest of the United Kingdom in a referendum tabled for 2014 then the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) have vowed to rid the country’s shores of the nuclear submarines and missiles currently stored on the Rosneath and Gareloch Peninsula in Argyll and Bute.
Last week the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, which oversees British government relations with the devolved Scottish Parliament, found that Devonport in Plymouth would be the most suitable site for the submarines if they were ejected from their current home in Faslane.
However the missiles, currently stored in Coulport, could not be housed in the city and defence expert professor Malcolm Chalmers told the parliamentary inquiry that land close to Falmouth would likely be the favoured site for the weapons.
Business leader Jeremy Edwards, chair of the Port of Falmouth Chamber of Commerce, compared the move to the growth of the docks and welcomed the possibility of an economic boost that it might bring the area.
“Ultimately it would create jobs,” he said. “They would need more people, like security staff, and those people would spend money in the town.
“We have got nuclear power stations scattered across the country and the overall risk to people would be minimal.”
Mr Edwards said he would “have his doubts” over any possible impact on the tourist trade although he did admit that “there’s bound to be a knock-on effect somewhere."
“The devil is in the detail,” he added.
Mylor and Flushing residents would undoubtedly be up in arms if they had to abandon their family homes to make way for a nuclear warhead store, yet parish council chairman John Symons said “it’s too far away” to comment on the proposals.
He said: “We can say one thing now and then when it gets around to it, it could be at the other end of the country – or it could be in Mylor. But three or four years down the line Cornwall could go the same way [as Scotland] so it could go somewhere else anyway.
“Personally, I’m not happy with anything nuclear at all, but when it comes to the crunch then we will have to see what everybody else says.”
Although Mr Symons said he feels an independent nuclear deterrent is “not really needed,” this Monday Conservative defence secretary Philip Hammond reaffirmed the government’s commitment to a new generation of nuclear missile submarines.
Conservative MP for Falmouth and Truro Sarah Newton, who hails from Mylor, said she fully understood the concerns over reports that Falmouth could become a nuclear base in the event of Scottish independence.
Yet she also pointed out that these proposals were not being actively considered, according to the Ministry of Defence.
She said: “I have raised this with the Ministry of Defence and they have confirmed that the government is not considering relocating the nuclear submarine base from Faslane. This story originates from a report that was published in the 1960s where Falmouth was considered alongside many different locations.
“The MoD rejected this proposal at the time and they are rejecting it now. They are not making any plans to move the nuclear submarine base, in the case of Scotland becoming a separate country.”
The Packet broke the nuclear story in February this year, click below to read the original: