FASLANE, (SCOTLAND) August 25 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – Claims that Scottish independence and the subsequent removal of Trident would lead to “economic devastation” for the local community have been “overplayed,” an elected official living in the shadow of the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the west of Scotland told RIA Novosti Monday.
Dance told RIA Novosti, “In the past the economic benefits of Faslane were realized by the local community, but that is not the case now. I think the warnings about the economic impact on Helensburgh are being overplayed,” Vivien Dance, the Councilor of Helensburgh, a town in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, said.
Dance, originally from England, moved to Scotland 44 years ago when her husband took up a post as a submarine navigator with Britain’s Polaris nuclear program, the forerunner of Trident nuclear deterrent that is currently located at the base.
The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) which is currently in control of the devolved Scottish Government are committed to removing Trident from Faslane within four years if Scots vote Yes to independence in a referendum that takes place on 18th September. Opposition anti-Scottish independence parties have said the decision would cost jobs and ruin the local economy.
Jackie Baillie a pro-UK Member of the Scottish Parliament said, “It is irresponsible for the SNP to suggest that only 1800 jobs are associated with Trident. The SNP would remove Trident, devastating our local economy and turning Helensburgh into a ghost town.”
But Dance, an independent member of the local authority which includes Faslane within its boundaries, told RIA Novosti Baillie’s warnings were “disingenuous”.
“I think it is disingenuous to say that the Helensburgh economy will be affected by the loss of jobs at the base,” Dance told RIA Novosti.
Dance said that Faslane had cocooned itself from the local economy for years and everything the personnel needed was provided “behind the wire”.
“In recent years, I suppose for security reasons, the base has developed internally. We now have, what is known there behind the wire, as the ‘Neptune Village’,” Dance said.
“That provides all the facilities that the naval personnel and submariners need. It has shops, dry-cleaning, cafes it has just about everything they need and they stay on the base, they are not contributing to the local economy,” Dance added.
Dance said that over the past two years she has listened carefully to the arguments for and against Scottish independence, but she is now committed to voting Yes next month.
“My reason for voting Yes has changed. As I’ve seen the debate develop I’ve been persuaded that Scotland should become an independent country,” Dance told RIA Novosti.
“When I came here from England four decades ago I never thought I would see Faslane as it is now. It has trebled in size. It is totally different from the 1970s. The world’s security is changing. Once we were fighting a cold war, but what has happened now is that the threat to nations has changed dramatically,” Dance added.
“The real issue facing the UK is whether they can afford Trident, but more importantly is it the right kind of warfare for the kind of terrorist warfare we are moving into,” Dance said.
Meanwhile more than 30 leaders of the Church of Scotland have publicly backed Scottish independence and signed a declaration describing Trident as “the worst thing in Scotland” and a Yes vote as the only way to get rid of it.