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Trident move set to be 'cheaper than expected'

If Scotland votes for independence next month, the remaining UK government would have to move its Trident nuclear deterrent out of the country - but a new report suggests the cost of the move would be far lower than expected.

The move would most likely take more than a decade and cost up to an extra £3.5 billion, according to a report by the Royal United Services Institute - but this is far below previous estimates of up to £25bn.

ITV News correspondent Martin Geissler has the full story.

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Ministry of Defence: 'No plans to move Trident'

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman has said there are no plans to move the Trident nuclear submarine out of Scotland. It follows research suggesting that should Scotland become independent the costs of moving the weapons programme would not be as complex as previously thought.

The nuclear deterrent is the ultimate guarantor of our nation's security and no alternative would be as effective at deterring threats now or in the future. There are no plans to move Trident from Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde and unilateral disarmament is not an option.

We are not planning for Scottish independence and as such it is difficult to estimate the total costs, or how long it would take, to replicate the facilities at Faslane, but it would likely cost taxpayers billions of pounds and take many years.

– Ministry of Defence spokeswoman

Trident's future would 'untangle' key independence issue

If the question mark over Trident's future could be answered, it would help untangle a difficult issue surrounding Scottish independence, Rusi research analyst Hugh Chalmers said.

"When people start considering options for relocations it's only natural to assume that it would be quite expensive and very difficult and that is certainly the case. But importantly it is not impossible.

"We estimate that essentially the net costs of relocating could actually be £2.5-3.5 billion at 2012 prices, rather than the tens of billions or even £20 billion that has been put forward so far."

But he said it would take a long time, and was unlikely to be completed by a target date of 2020, and a more "natural timeframe" would be linked to the entry of a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines, currently anticipated to start in 2028.

Relocation of nuclear deterrent 'financially feasible'

Credit: PA Images

A research paper by the Royal United Services Institute has claimed that relocating Trident out of Scotland should the nation become independent would be both financially and technically feasible.

The paper estimates that recreating the facilities outside Scotland would add £2.5 to £3.5 billion (at 2012/13 prices) to the cost of maintaining a nuclear-armed fleet, plus the cost of acquiring and clearing the land and costs of moving people and material around, but it is very unlikely to cost "tens of billions" cited elsewhere.

But it would take more than a decade to recreate the facilities, rather than the four years to which the SNP is currently committed, the authors said.

Trident nuclear submarine relocation costs detailed

Credit: Press Association Images

Relocating the UK's nuclear deterrent out of an independent Scotland would be difficult but would cost far less than previously predicted, experts have suggested.

Relocating Trident in the event of Scottish independence would be feasible, although it could take more than a decade and spark significant local opposition, a new paper from the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) military think tank has found.

But the paper suggests that recreating the nuclear facilities outside Scotland would add between £2.5-3.5 billion to the cost of maintaining a nuclear-armed fleet, plus the cost of acquiring and clearing land - but would be far less than a previously-predicted £20-25 billion.

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Scottish FM demands nuclear reactor fault apology

HMS Vanguard arrives back at HM Naval Base Clyde, Faslane. Credit: Creative Commons

Alex Salmond has demanded an apology from David Cameron for failing to tell Scottish ministers about a radiation problem at a nuclear submarine test reactor.

The First Minister said the UK Government had "disrespected" Holyrood and the people of Scotland by not alerting the Scottish Government to the problem for almost two years.

MPs urge parliamentary inquiry into radiation leak

Opposition politicians have called for a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of a radiation leak at a nuclear test reactor.

Public confidence has been damaged by the incident at the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment in Dounreay, Caithness, according to shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker and shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran.

Dounreay nuclear power station in Scotland. Credit: PA

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond revealed details of a small internal leak of radiation on Thursday as he announced that the nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard is to have its reactor refuelled at a cost of £120 million.

Mr Coaker and Ms Curran said there were "significant questions" about the handling of the incident, particularly the two-year delay in making it public.

Vanguard fleet of Trident submarines set to be replaced

Replacing Britain's nuclear deterrent has proved a flashpoint for the Coalition with Liberal Democrats opposed to "like for like" replacement and Conservatives committed to a full renewal of the UK's fleet of four Vanguard-class submarines by 2028.

Liberal Democrat Defence Minister Nick Harvey has been conducting a review of possible cheaper alternatives.

The first of the four Vanguards had been due to leave service in 2022, but the Government extended the vessels' lives as part of the 2010 Defence and Security Review.

Final decisions about ordering replacements do not have to be taken until 2016, after the next general election.

£1billion contract for nuclear submarines 'agreed'

The Defence Secretary has agreed the deal as part of Government plans to replace the Vanguard fleet. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A £1billion contract for reactors to power the next generation of Britain's nuclear submarines will be announced this week, it was reported today.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has agreed the deal as part of Government plans to replace the Vanguard fleet that carries the Trident nuclear deterrent, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

The money will be used to build two reactor cores, one of which will be used for the seventh Astute Class attack submarine and one for the first of the next generation nuclear deterrent submarines.

It will also be used to fund an 11-year refit of the Rolls-Royce five-year-old plant at Raynesway, Derby, which will carry out the highly-specialised work. The deal will directly create 300 jobs.