The Ministry of Defence has said it has no plans to use Lough Foyle as a base for its nuclear deterrent arsenal, in response to concerns raised by the local council.
The MoD was responding after Derry and Strabane Council fired off a letter to the MoD warning of its “total opposition to any proposed operations in relation to the production on nuclear weaponry on Lough Foyle”.
A motion to this effect was tabled by Independent Colr. Darren O’Reilly at a meeting last November, following comments by Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
Mr Donaldson, speaking about the potential relocation of Trident following on from Scotland’s Independence referendum and the subsequent electoral victory for the SNP, which is opposed to hosting Trident, said the Foyle was one of several options that could have potential.
The Council’s letter was issued to the MoD shortly before Christmas, and the MoD reply was this week presented to councillors.
The response from the MoD, states: “You refer to comments made by Jeffrey Donaldson MP with regard to the possibility that Lough Foyle could be used as a new base for the UK nuclear deterrent. I also note your reference to a motion passed by Derry Council.
“I can assure you there are no plans to move the UK’s nuclear deterrent from HMNB Clyde. There are no other naval facilities in the UK that could support nuclear deterrent submarine operations.
“In September 2014 the Scottish people voted to remain part of the UK. Although there was a public speculation on alternative basing locations in the run-up to the Scottish referendum, this Government did not commission any contingency plans.”
Colr O’Reilly, who argued back in November that the council needed to make it clear that Derry was a “no nuclear zone”, said yesterday: “Clarification that common sense has prevailed over people coming up with notions and ideas that the Foyle could be used for such a purpose is to be welcomed
“There were a number of major issues at play here- the environmental issues it would raise, along with, all of a sudden, the north west region being put on the map for people to attack.
“The feedback I got from local people at the time is that there was a lot of opposition to this kind of notion of a fleet of subs coming here, and we have sent out that message loud and clear - this kind of thing is not wanted in our city and district.”
Trident consists of four huge submarines, each armed with up to eight ballistic missiles and 40 thermonuclear warheads. The fleet is based at Clyde Naval Base, Scotland.