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Life in the Faslane

OK, imagine this scenario. You live in a small community in a gorgeous nook of Western Scotland where you don’t need to worry about locking your doors, the air is crisp and clean and church attendance is high. The only snag is that you live in the nearest town to Britain’s infamous Faslane naval base, which houses the country’s nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines. It’s also where the military send their soldiers to practice killing people in your beautiful forest surroundings, and there are an usually high number of unmarked barrels filled with bright green liquid your kids can play with.

So what do you do? Why, complain about the protesters who block the traffic, of course!

Welcome to Garelochhead, home to the world’s nastiest nuclear arsenal, the Faslane 365 peace camp, and local residents who take NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard) to a whole new level.

On 2 April this year, local residents decided they had enough of all those hippies, feminists, quakers and even parliamentarians who disrupt their quiet plutonium-tinged idyll with noisy protest and – shudder – traffic disruption. Residents marched to the Faslane 365 camp and held placards like: ‘Mums against disruption’ and ‘Beep for work’. Their main bone of contention is not that they live so close to planetary death devices that have just been given the green light to get an upgrade by the Government, but that occasionally protesters try to block military vehicles from gaining entry into the base which has the side effect of causing traffic congestion on the main road into and out of Garelochhead. Residents cite the disruption to emergency services and school runs as their main concern. This despite the fact that protesters have strict guidelines about letting emergency services through, and are working to ensure that school traffic can be allowed to pass as well.

One small comfort is that both groups agree that they want peace. The Faslane 365 protestors want peace on earth, while residents of Garelochhead just want to be able nip off to the nearby ASDA supermarket in peace. All we are saying is give peace a chance.

New Internationalist issue 400 magazine cover This article is from the May 2007 issue of New Internationalist.
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