Nuclear convoys branded ‘moving target’ for terrorists

Owen Thompson. Picture: Alan Wilson
Owen Thompson. Picture: Alan Wilson
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NUCLEAR weapons convoys pose a danger to the public because they are “a moving target for terrorists”, Midlothian SNP MP Owen Thompson has told the House of Commons.

And he quoted a warning from the Ministry of Defence that a terrorist attack on a convoy could was likely to lead to “considerable loss of life and severe disruption to the British people’s way of life and to the UK’s ability to function effectively as a sovereign state”.

After the debate at Westminster yesterday, Mr Thompson secured a second reading for his Bill to ban nuclear convoys through towns and cities.

There have been at least two recent occasions when convoys were spotted near Penicuik and Mr Thompson said he had been alerted by members of the public on Facebook and Twitter “pointing out the grim scene of nuclear materials passing their front door”.

He added: “If members of the public are capable of doing so it seems logical to assume that others with darker motivations could also do so.

“I am sure we are all far too aware of the appalling damage, and the loss of life that a terrorist attack can result in – running convoys of nuclear weapons through the country does nothing to deter that.”

And he said if there was an incident or a major explosion, local authorities may not be fully prepared to deal with it.

“Whilst police are informed of an approaching convoy, there is no obligation to inform any other service, including the fire services,” he said.

He said convoys continued to travel regardless of severe weather warnings and now rules restricting travel by night had been lifted.

He further said MoD figures showed there had been 70 individual safety incidents involving convoys recorded between July 2007 and December 2012,

“These convoys are dangerous, highly visible and not only a risk through the level of accidents but they are also a moving target for terrorists.

Labour’s John Woodcock, MP for Barrow-in-Furness, accused Mr Thompson of scaremongering. He said people in his constituency were periodically given warning notices of what to do in event of a nuclear attack. He said: “This idea there is a sudden derailment and the whole of Scotland is filled with a cloud of plutonium and everyone puts on gas masks and dies is a complete fantasy.”

The Bill will have its second reading on March 4.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com