Kintyre may be nuclear submarine dump

Click to follow

A former RAF base on the Mull of Kintyre has been earmarked as a potential storage site for Britain's mounting stockpile of redundant nuclear submarines.

A former RAF base on the Mull of Kintyre has been earmarked as a potential storage site for Britain's mounting stockpile of redundant nuclear submarines.

Ministry of Defence officials are seeking somewhere to dump up to 27 submarine reactors, each the size of two double-decker buses, until at least 2040. The refused to rule out the peninsula as a nuclear graveyard is creating fear and alarm among residents.

In Campbeltown, locals believe the former RAF base at Machrihanish, on the west coast of Kintyre, is high on the MoD's target list.

While a decision is still three years away there are mounting fears among the community that speculation will be enough to destroy investment in the area, cripple tourism and turn the already remote peninsula into a ghost town.

The population of the peninsula has crashed by a fifth following the closure of the Nato base at Machrihanish - which took more than £1.5m from the local economy.

The recent closures of Campbeltown Shipyard, a Jaeger clothing factory and a number of other industrial and seafood businesses are only just being reversed.

Tourism chiefs are hoping to capitalise on the area's rugged hills, lush green countryside and golden sandy beaches.

The ferry service to Ballycastle - 13 miles across the channel from Torr Head has recently been re-established and a new international golf course is planned.

John Semple, of the Campeltown and Kintyre Enterprise Trust, which works to promote the area, said: "All this could be destroyed by a nuclear dump on the doorstep. There is a huge potential to turn this area into a major tourist attraction but how many people would want to bring their families to a place stigmatised as a radioactive dustbin? The MoD and the Government should not think we will just roll over and accept this. There will be civil disobedience if necessary. We are united and we will fight to the bitter end."

Already posters have started appearing in shop windows throughout the town against the nuclear plans, and a petition is being circulated demanding that Machrihanish is ruled out of the running.

"We have already done our bit for the country, now it's the turn of some other community," said Nancie Smith, chairman of the Campbeltown Community Council. "This community is only now starting to recover from a number of setbacks suffered over the last 10 years. Despite this we have managed to remain a vibrant and supportive community. We had thought that with a number of investment projects being considered we were at last seeing the light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel then we get an announcement like this."

An MoD spokesman said Machrihanish was one of a number of sites where the broken-up, empty reactor shells could be stored and that while some had already been ruled out it was still too early to give a decision on Machrihanish.

Comments