Nuclear Convoys project 2016

February 2, 2016

Background and aims:

ICAN UK, which coordinates the British-based groups and organisations that support the nuclear ban objectives of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recently received funding to take forward the first year of what we hope will be a longer campaign to focus attention on the unacceptable risks arising from the transporting of nuclear warheads across Britain.

For many years Nukewatch, Aldermaston Women (AWPC), CND and others have monitored and tracked the nuclear warhead convoys that travel about six times a year between AWE Burghfield in Berkshire and Coulport naval depot near Faslane, just north of Glasgow.  The most recent convoy was tracked by AWPC and Nukewatch leaving Burghfield on 9 January 2016, see Nukewatch video on youtube.

The purpose of this project, provisionally titled ‘Nukes of Hazard’, is to mobilise higher levels of public awareness and interest in ending British reliance on nuclear weapons, through educational materials, outreach and actions that highlight the dangers of the UK’s possession and transporting of nuclear weapons.  By focussing initially on four locations along the convoy route, the project will research local information, such as schools/colleges, hospitals, public amenities and workplaces nearby, and link local meetings and actions about the nuclear risks with broader efforts to prevent the replacement of Trident, end the current Trident deployments, and promote UK engagement in international humanitarian initiatives for multilateral disarmament negotiations and a nuclear ban treaty.

The risks of possessing nuclear weapons – the way British people are ourselves at risk, even if Trident is never fired at other countries – is generally little understood and under-reported.  Awareness of the risks for Scotland due to nuclear bases Faslane and Coulport were important elements in Scottish rejection of nuclear weapons – but all across the UK people are put at risk by the nuclear convoys.

The humanitarian consequences approach includes an understanding of nuclear risks, eg. as highlighted by studies published by ICAN, Nuclear Information Service, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Acronym, Article 36, Scottish CND, and recent publications such as Eric Schlosser’s 2014 book Command and Control and Chatham House report ‘Too Close for Comfort’, as well as ongoing work by Nukewatch, Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), and others.


1.      Make the international humanitarian consequences approach local and personal, by highlighting the dangers of the UK’s nuclear weapons programme to its own citizens.

2.      Put pressure on local authorities and elected politicians to speak out against the unacceptable risks of nuclear weapons possession.

3.      Add to the UK debate on Trident renewal by putting it in the context of the Humanitarian Pledge and international efforts to get negotiations on a treaty to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

 Local activities:

ICAN-UK has resources for four priority locations along the convoy routes and plans to work with local campaigners and partner organisations to do the following, which will highlight the specific risks to the local community:

1.      coordinate new research about the specific areas ie. potential impact on hospitals and schools (and highlight findings of existing research).

2.      facilitate production of a short film to communicate this research on local risks in an accessible and engaging way which can be shared on social media.

3.      organise a public meeting involving local authority, emergency services, elected officials, academics from local universities, and experts to look at risks of the convoys to the area.

4.      organise nonviolent, engaging and media-friendly actions to raise awareness in local press, radio stations, social media etc. Make a short film about the actions, which can also include interviews with local people.

5.      write briefings with a local focus to help groups in the area engage local media and raise the issue with their MPs.


While we’ve chosen the four locations to ensure that the research, outreach and work are manageable and as effective as possible within the resources ICAN-UK has access to, and the project seek partners to accomplish this, our choosing of these priorities does not preclude any groups that have resources and energy to work on other areas along the convoy routes highlighting dangers at other locations, and adapting project materials as appropriate.

Additional communications:

·         Produce information packs for different audiences eg. briefings for local authorities and MPs, campaigners’ packs.

·         Produce new short film(s) about the convoys which can be shared (as well as promoting existing short film ‘Too Close for Comfort’).

·         Online presence: develop new website for the project plus create a buzz on social media; produce new infographics and visuals.

·         Produce leaflets, stickers, posters, banners + other merchandise eg. t-shirts.

Who will do the work?

The project will be coordinated through a small core group facilitated by ICAN-UK, Acronym Institute/CND and Scottish Ploughshares.  Other groups which expressed early interest in collaborating include: Nukewatch/Oxford CND, Scottish CND, Medact, Nuclear Information Service (NIS), Action AWE, Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), WILPF, Quaker PSW and Wheel Stop Trident – and we hope this project will involve many more as we proceed.

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