Scottish Parliament: submarine decommissioning

Submarine Decommissioning


4. Mr Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green): To ask the Scottish Executive what representations it has made to the Ministry of Defence about whether the decision on the acceptability of the proposals for decommissioning
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submarines at Rosyth will be based on the environmental principles of waste minimisation and "concentrate and contain". (S2O-555)


The Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development (Allan Wilson): The Executive has made no such representations to the Ministry of Defence. We would, however, expect all such proposals to meet stringent environmental standards.

Mr Ruskell: Does the minister agree that no cutting up of nuclear submarine reactor compartments should take place in Scotland and that only the cutting out and land-based storage of the entire sealed nuclear reactor compartments of only those existing submarines that are stored afloat at Rosyth should be considered for consent by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency?

Allan Wilson: The environmental impact of what is proposed will be judged by the regulators against standard processes, including best available technology, not entailing excessive costs and best practicable environmental option. The criteria involve waste minimisation, sustainability, pollution and emissions, and socioeconomic issues. Within that, concentration and containment are the principal means by which it would be intended to dispose of the waste.

Scott Barrie (Dunfermline West) (Lab): As the minister will be aware, the recently announced consultation will not result in a final decision being taken by the Ministry of Defence for two years. Could he clarify for me and for my constituents in Rosyth what planning powers the Scottish Executive will have with regard to any decision by the Ministry of Defence to dispose of the submarines that are currently located at Rosyth dockyard?

Allan Wilson: That is a good question. I acknowledge the member's constituency interest. Government departments benefit from Crown immunity from planning control, but it may interest the member and the wider chamber to know that the Executive and the UK Government intend to remove Crown immunity from planning control. Amendments to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill, which is currently before colleagues at Westminster, will be introduced to this Parliament by a Sewel motion, so colleagues will have the opportunity to make input to the process at that point.

Bruce Crawford (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP): In making representations to the MOD, why has the minister simply not told it that it is unacceptable that Rosyth, or any other part of Scotland, should become the graveyard for redundant nuclear submarines? Why has he not told the MOD that Devonport got the jobs, so why should Scotland end up being the nuclear rubbish
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bin of the UK?

Allan Wilson: Narrow nationalism and nimbyism rolled into one—not a very attractive sight. If Mr Crawford took off his narrow nationalist blinkers he would know that Scotland is a net exporter of nuclear waste—we are not an importer of nuclear waste—and that we are also a net exporter of toxic waste. At all levels his argument fails and is completely fallacious.

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