Chancellor George Osborne has announced a £500m (€680m; $770m) investment for the Royal Navy's submarine base at Faslane, a move that he says will create thousands of jobs. The money will be spent over a 10-year period on ship lifts, sea walls, jetties and other infrastructure facilities at the site, with work scheduled to begin in 2017, the BBC reported.
Faslane on the River Clyde is the home of Britain's nuclear arsenal, the Trident submarines, and is one of three Royal Navy bases alongside Portsmouth and Devonport. Osborne, who is due to visit the base on 31 August, said the investment will ensure the Scottish installation remains "the centre of UK submarine operations for the next generation".
But the announcement has been criticised by Scottish MPs, who want nuclear weapons to be removed from Scotland and the Trident programme to be scrapped.
'Thousands of jobs'
"Today's announcement of more than £500m demonstrates the UK government's commitment to investing in the infrastructure and capability to ensure that Faslane remains the centre of UK submarine operations for the next generation," Osborne was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"There will be thousands more jobs right here in Faslane, as well as across the UK supply chain. Across Scotland, around 12,600 people work in defence and my defence spending commitments will secure these jobs and provide huge opportunities for defence, security and technology companies all over the UK."
The Ministry of Defence intends to relocate all of Britain's submarines to Scotland by 2020, with the new Successor-class submarines also set to be based at Faslane when they come into service in 2028. There are presently 6,700 military and civilian staff and contractors at Faslane and that number is likely to rise to about 8,200 by 2022 as more submarines are moved to the base.
The Scottish National Party condemned Westminster's spending priorities and called for investment in conventional defence capabilities over more nuclear weapons. "There is something fundamentally wrong with Westminster's values and priorities if the chancellor thinks wasting billions on nuclear weapons is something to boast about when people are dying within our benefits system," Sky News quoted the party's defence spokesman Brendan O'Hara as saying.
"And in defence terms too, at a time when Scotland's conventional defence footprint has never been smaller with major capability gaps, base closures and personnel numbers at an all-time low, it seems the Treasury apparently has a limitless pot to keep an unwanted and obscene arsenal of nuclear weapons afloat. Investment in Faslane is welcome – but it must be as a conventional base – and not more money spent on weapons of mass destruction."