Faslane under water?

IssueOctober - November 2021
News by PN staff

Climate change could flood Faslane naval base, home to Britain’s Trident nuclear missile submarine force. That’s one conclusion of Climate Impact – UK Nuclear Military, a report released in September by the independent research institute, the Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG).

Climate Impact says that; ‘Present UK coastal military nuclear infrastructure is profoundly vulnerable to flooding from sea-level rise, storm intensity and storm surge – with inland nuclear facilities also facing inundation and flooding.

‘In other words, UK nuclear military bases are set to flood.’

Climate change is projected to lead to a rise in sea levels of over one metre during this century.

‘Storm surge’ is when the sea level rises during a storm. The Met Office says: ‘The main cause of a storm surge is high winds pushing the seawater towards the coast, causing it to pile up there.’

The strong winds in a storm create large waves on top of the surge, increasing the risk of flooding.

So, there is the basic rise in sea levels because of the melting of polar ice caps; there is an additional rise in the sea level during a storm; climate change is making storms more frequent and more intense; there are also large waves in a storm on top of the storm surge itself.

The NCG report points out that the flooding risk is even greater when a storm hits at high tide.

The NCG quotes frightening remarks by the chair of the UK environment agency last November. Emma Howard Boyd said that, even if the UK reaches net zero by 2050, summer temperatures are set to be up to 7.4 °C hotter, there will be 59 percent more winter rainfall, and ‘once-a-century sea level events are expected to be annual events’.

The NCG concludes that: ‘despite the very great concentration of nuclear military resources and associated radiological [radioactive] inventories at Faslane – projected significantly increased annual flooding and storm surge brings into question the operational viability of the naval base.

Any old port

At the beginning of September, it was revealed that the ministry of defence has contingency plans in the event of Scottish independence, given that the Scottish National Party is committed to evicting Faslane.

One options was moving Britain’s nuclear force to France. That seems off the table now that Britain has joined the AUKUS military pact with the US and Australia, enraging the French government.

Other options were: relocating to Devonport; moving to the US; or negotiating a new British Overseas Territory within an independent Scottish state.

This would be a tiny colony like the US base on Guantánamo Bay in Cuba – except that it would have the Faslane and Coulport naval bases and all of Britain’s nuclear weapons.