‘The biggest risk is doing nothing’

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When you start using words like “nuclear” and “dismantling”, it’s always going to raise alarm bells.

It is entirely understandable that many people do not like the thought of seven rusting nuclear submarines sitting in the Forth and like even less the suggestion that the complex operation of decommissioning may take place here. Of course, some, including the SNP, would dearly love to see Scotland nuclear-free.

Environment leader Robert Aldridge points to the risk, however minimal, of contamination of the Forth as a reason for getting shot of them quickly - and moving the work down south.

But that has to be weighed against the potential for a very significant economic case for keeping them here.

We do not yet have exact figures, but such a major operation would clearly be a great boon for the local area in a sector which needs all the work it can get.

There will, of course, be certain safety fears but we have to remember the first-rate safety record of the nuclear industry in this country.

It is perfectly right that safety concerns are raised but the final decision must be based on a cool and level-headed examination of the facts.

The subs are lying idle at Rosyth at the moment and everyone is agreed that a decision on how and where to dispose of them needs to be taken quickly as the biggest risk must surely lie in doing nothing.

The consultation by the Ministry of Defence is ongoing and will have to address these fears.

But we must be careful not to look a gift horse in the mouth and reject the opportunity of valuable employment.

These submarines have been controversial from the moment they were conceived. Somewhere is going to benefit from their ultimate demise.

We should not be quick to dismiss the possibility of that somewhere being the Firth of Forth. In the final anaylsis, the benefits may well outweigh the risks.

Dale’s legacy

Today, Garry and Michelle Bennett open their hearts for the first time about the tragic death of their 17-year-old son Dale, a week after Brian McHale was convicted of his brutal murder.

Their family has been shattered by his senseless death, but the memory of the talented young footballer will live on through a memorial fund which will help others who shared Dale’s passion. His family’s determination to ensure some good comes out of tragedy is an example to us all.