N-sub weapons storage could create new jobs
Business leaders have welcomed news that Britain's nuclear missiles could be stored in a Cornish town bringing thousands of jobs to the area.
Falmouth's chances of housing warheads from nuclear submarines rest with Scotland gaining independence.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has vowed to rid its shores of Trident. The plan would mean Faslane Naval Base, which employs around 6,000 people, losing four Vanguard-class vessels and closing down. Coulport, which stores missiles would also be shut.
Speculation surrounding Falmouth's possible role in Britain's nuclear future was sparked by the results of a parliamentary inquiry this week.
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The Commons Scottish Affairs Committee found that Devonport was the most suitable base to take submarines if Faslane closed, but would not have the room to house missiles, too.
Professor Malcolm Chalmers, a defence expert at the think tank Royal United Services Institute, gave evidence to the inquiry and said Falmouth would probably be the favoured site for the weapons.
Jeremy Edwards, chairman of the Port of Falmouth Chamber of Commerce said he would welcome the move if it meant bringing more jobs to Cornwall.
He said: "Cornwall is full of granite containing uranium anyway – we already have enough radioactive material to set a geiger counter going crazy.
"I don't see it as a problem but there has to be a benefit for Cornwall, namely jobs.
"We're in a recession and jobs are vital."
Industry chiefs dismissed fears that tourism could be affected by the presence of the nuclear weapons. Malcolm Bell, head of VisitCornwall, which promotes tourism, said he "very much doubted" tourists would be put off coming to Falmouth.
He said: "We've had nuclear submarines in Plymouth for years and it hasn't affected tourism. Personally I think most people push the nuclear issue to the back of their minds."
Anti-nuclear campaigners disagreed. Tony Staunton, a CND council member who lives in Plymouth, said the Ministry of Defence ruled out Falmouth as a possible location for nuclear warheads in the 1960s, while trying to site Polaris missiles.
He said: "Since then the reasons for this decision have only become more compelling. If nuclear warheads were to be stored in Falmouth today, then villages like Flushing and Mylor Churchtown would have to be evacuated and businesses, including the marina and sailing club, would have to be closed down.
"Far from boosting the local economy, it would oust whole swathes of the population and result in the destruction of the tourism and sailing industries.
"If Trident is ejected from an independent Scotland, then we would do well to oppose the billions spent yearly on nuclear weapons, rather than welcoming them to Cornwall with all of the ruinous consequences this would entail."
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said there were no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from Scotland.