POLITICIANS – including Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman – have called on the UK government to fund a plan to recycle Royal Navy nuclear submarines.

There are currently seven of the old boats being stored at Rosyth Dockyard as well as another 14 at Devonport, Plymouth. A further seven are due to be coming out of service with the Royal Navy in the next 20 years.

The cross-party group of three MPs – which also includes Plymouth Sutton and Devonport’s Luke Pollard and Copeland MP Trudy Harrison – has written to Prime Minister Theresa May and other party leaders.

They have asked that funds be provided for submarine recycling which will use the same principles as the civil nuclear programme in which 17 former nuclear sites are being cleaned up.

Mr Chapman said the principles of nuclear clean-up had been established in civil nuclear decommissioning.

“Rosyth Dockyard faces an uncertain future with new ship-builds and this recycling proposal could support many hundreds of jobs in Scotland,” he said.

“This isn’t dead money. Submarine recycling should be seen as a new economic opportunity to spread our expertise and intellectual property around the globe.

“More locally, moving these submarines out of Rosyth more quickly than we expect would also free up space within the dockyard basin where more commercial port and ship servicing activity could be carried out.”

The MoD began a programme to dismantle the submarines in December 2016 when work on the first, Swiftsure, began.

Once this is completed, best practices developed will be used to refine the disposal process as the programme is progressed.

The current estimation is that one submarine is likely to be dismantled every 18 months.

Mr Chapman has previously called for this process to be sped up and has described the work as “excruciatingly slow”.

In October last year, he told the Press that Rosyth should not be a “sanctuary for toxic submarines” and said constituents were fed-up with the subs rotting in their own back yard.

An MoD spokesperson said this week that the dismantling project was making “good progress” with more than 50 tonnes of radioactive waste removed from the demonstrator submarine since December 2016.

“We have capacity for safely storing all our T-Class submarines, including those in service today, and are committed to ensuring that all dismantling is undertaken in a safe, secure, cost-effective and environmentally-sound manner,” added the spokesperson.

“It has also created 60 new jobs with people employed in a range of highly-skilled roles.”