2007 - 2021

The Cost of Union

The case for dependence was made again and again on what was cutely termed ‘the harsh economic realities’. We had ‘narrow shoulders’ and a volatile revenue base,  if we were not too wee and stupid, we were clearly too poor.  Not so mighty Britain (now spectacularly and tragically indebted). But the true costs of the Union are sharply rising..

Only back in 2014 the costs of the strategically useless and unpopular Trident was an eye-watering £100 billion.
breaking_news In figures released today, its doubled to a staggering £205 billion:

Manufacturing four successor submarines £31 billion
Contingency fund £10 billion
Missile extension programme £350 million
Replacement warheads £4 billion
Infrastructure capital costs £4 billion
In service costs £142 billion
Conventional military forces directly assigned to support Trident £1 billion
Decommisioning £13 billion

TOTAL £205 billion

It makes Hinkley C look like a bargain. The nuclear power station – described as the most expensive project in the world ever – is facing delays and another massive costs rise. The cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could we’re told now reach almost £21bn, £3bn more than planned, the French energy company EDF has admitted, as it published a construction timetable suggesting first power could be delayed until 2026. Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, declined to comment on the potential cost increase when asked by Labour’s Lisa Nandy in parliament on Thursday, but insisted that the project would go ahead.

It’s only through  Freedom of Information Acts that we know the £70bn costs to clean-up of the Sellafield plant in Cumbria. Some think it could be as high as £218 billion others claim it just ‘can’t be forecast’.

Apart from the vast folly of these strange projects, how they put people in danger, and fail to deliver what they say they will, they are also just sinks for vast amounts of public money. Scotland’s share of the cost of Trident is approximately £20 billion. At present the entire block grant is £26 billion.

This is a sociopathic defence and energy policy that distorts our economy and prevents us thinking about future-focused alternatives for clean and renewable energy and peace. Decisions on both will be made in the next few months.

Never mind the EU referendum, Hinkley C and Trident 2 are ‘material changes’ too.



Comments (24)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Yes; we know all that but the No voters are only concerned with what threats the MSM promised them if they took the plunge. Not too wee, too poor or too stupid but too frightened.

  2. Graeme McCormick says:

    The Yessers have to get real. It’s all very well exposing the financial and moral cost of Trident but can we have some meat on the bones of what alternative work will be available to workers in Faslane if the Base closes? Unless we get Independence the MOD will close Faslane. So let’s have the Scottish government spearhead the recreation of the Clyde as a global port so Faslane becomes superfluous to our economy

    1. Steve says:

      How about construction of subsea tidal energy turbines. It is long overdue that this technology needs to be brought to the fore. This technology has been around in various forms for decades now and is effective, this massive green energy supply needs to happen. Faslane base can be used as a construction yard for these turbines which will then be anchored to the seabed and work on both the incoming and outgoing tide, which happens twice a day, it’s a great source of power, time to make it happen on a large scale

    2. Mike says:

      How about the FACT that you’re only talking about 513 jobs in total of which over half are contract positions which will be directly impacted by abandoning Trident?

      Consecutive UK Governments have shed hundreds of Thousands of jobs deliberately through the ideological program of privatisation.

      They could save the Oil and Gas industry in the North Sea simply by Nationalising it and guaranteeing full employment but they are ideologically opposed to such measures because they are Neo Conservative Neo Liberal.

      And its our Union benefit as a social democratic society to be Governed by them because somebody else put them into power.

      1. Phil says:

        It has been suggested that 513 jobs Vs the thousands laid off elsewhere in this Austerity Economy is a false threat. The answer is in the project cost estimates: create, overnight, 513 new millionaires, thank them for services rendered, and move on looking for a purchaser for a few outdated nuclear submarines, and one very big beach-side shed.

  3. Ian Kirkwood says:

    There are many costs that we inflict upon ourselves. The old Trident figure I had at £2.4 billion a year (has that doubled?). That oil was squandered to prop up an ailing Britain is evidenced by Scotland’s absent equivalent of Norway’s oil fund. Our shoulders seem to have been broad enough to sacrifice that — for what?

    But there is another annual UK cost we need not bear that dwarfs Trident: the deadweight losses of taxation. What is that? The economic disincentives applied when tax is applied. Economists estimate the losses at between £1 and £2 lost for every £1 of revenue raised through traditional taxation.

    Income taxes get the UK exchequer about £166 billion a year. But deadweight losses to the economy run to at least the same figure. Is this widely understood? That in the UK we choose to maintain a revenue system that on just one tax COSTS THE UK £166 BILLION A YEAR!

    It is maintained for one reason. To channel public value in the form of free capital gains on site values into the pockets of site owners. May I recommend AGR instead? By substituting AGR for one tax — Income Tax — we’d be at least £166 billion a year better off.

    Scotland can go it alone and make a start NOW by reducing income taxes by Holyrood’s full devolved margin and introducing a measure of AGR.

  4. Graeme McCormick says:

    Precisely, but what counts is the politics. If you can’t sell it so folk are convinced that they will benefit and their asset is secure it won’t happen. Mortgages broke the power of the Trade Unions so any change must not endanger the market value of their main asset

    1. Ian Kirkwood says:

      Scotland must identify the relationship between free capital gains for site owners and inequality. Then it can choose which it wants with eyes open. But the gains to be derived from AGR (unleashed enterprises) will make it well able to fund the transition in a way in which everyone except land speculators win (Adam Smith). Growth would at least double to 4% (Sandilands).

      1. Anton says:

        I’m a supporter of AGR (LVT – call it what you will) but I don’t quite understand what you mean by “free capital gains for site owners”. Are you referencing the fact that there’s no capital gains tax on the sale of private homes/primary residences? Or do you have something else in mind?

        1. Ian Kirkwood says:

          Site values increase over time without any effort on the part of owners. This is the result of tax investments in amenities. In other words, the increasing value comes from the efforts of society as a whole.

          For example, the new Forth crossing will add value to vast numbers of domestic and commercial sites enjoying improved transport links. It is logical that society should reclaim the value it has just created — and make corresponding reductions in the taxes that suppress enterprises.

          Because of this way of looking at the levy on ground rents, some argue it is not a tax and therefor use the term AGR in favour of LVT.

  5. c rober says:

    Those costs from the new NPS.

    Did I see mention of the long term costs ascociated with its demise , ie cleanup and wind down costed to the taxpayer , or perhaps when the original company goes bust?

    Ideally comparing the aftercosts of other decom sites to the taxpayer , vs profit to the supplier and operator. For example the French site Brennelis so far has cost 480 m dollars , more than 20x the estimate , and important considering its EDF with the accidents during its decom.

    Knowing how EU companies work , and US ones , then bankruptcy is now part of that ethos , protecting the original company via a shell Locale company.

    That means taking profits , offshoring them , and bancruptcy for end game for side company , protecting the share price of parent company – as well as its assets.

    I reckon that EDF will create a separate entity to do just that with Hinkley , hence the dithering , looking for get out money and clauses , and of course the decom costs to the taxpayer – one way or another.

    Yet we , through big business and media , all complain about the cost of renewables on our bills , even to the point of it being a fault of EU membership , this is a perfect example of how we should be going renewable now and increasing it.

    Nuclear power is not a can we want to kick down the road , if the end costs will be for the taxpayer , profits for the supplier , renewables though come with lower long term financial/enviromental costs and increased employment.

    But some things eco do escape the MSM , http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/costa-rica-achieved-99-renewable-energy-year.html

    Renewables , AGR , with the creation of a peoples bank , is that the way forward?

    Exporting and sharing eco energy , through an EU grid would cost far less than a new Nuclear , when its cost is both beneficial and shared with other like minded nations , say Norway , and its soverign wealth fund- which is also looking for a post carbon future.

    Trident , well let that “wealth of the few at the expense of the many not even born yet ” go to Portsmouth , and let West Dumbartonshire die , the economic migrant rats can afford to follow the jobs , and already did.

    Those that would remain in the area would eventually prosper with tidal and wind energy , more so than with Trident itself.

    1. Ian Kirkwood says:

      Comparing like with like ought to be transparent for citizens. But what column will we find decommissioning costs entered in? I could not help noticing how well the government was ‘funding infrastructure’ in the north-west of England — until I discovered this was deemed a suitable accounting column and geographical zone (was its generated power restricted to Cumbria?) to enter the costs of decommissioning Sellafield…

      The figures needed to look a bit more equitable after £6000+ per capita went to London that year (2014 I think) and only £230 per capita to the North-east.

      1. c rober says:

        With regard to investment Ian.

        HMG doesnt do investment for betterment.

        If it operated like a company , then where it fails it would either remove that part from its business core , or invest in it for improving its ROI through efficency and cost cutting – in order to remain competitive in that market.

        What you mention , ie investment being decom is immoral , but unsurprising really. Only the brave question the maths , or the radical that rages against the machine , whom appears , or is protrayed – as the tin foil hatter”. With the one obvious difference in Scottish politics , to argue against the SNP does not get you a hat , but an SNP Bad Badge.

        This creative accounting is not Just an example of Tory mandate , but that of Westminster , given the lack of redistribution during the Labour 15 years. Though I do accept that a single term is not long enough to organise change as a result of long term policies , but both labour and Tory had 3 consequtive terms in which to do so.

        Therefore it makes little sense to under invest , other than for political power needs. In the case you mention , ie NE decom , I dont think could be called investment , accounting of the doubious nature – yes.

        Votes being a need are the industry that Westminster itself is operating , the political end product , are from that kind of accounting , a Westminster PLC widget , where underinvestment leads to exodus , lowering the population densities not in your groove.

        Its kind of like a localised version of a Highland clearance , no jobs in an economic wasteland , so workers must follow them , then becoming an electoral minority within their new locale , continuing the cycle.

        Yet we complain of migrant workers from outside our borders , while at the same time allowing a system within our own to flourish – through political economic warfare , on the poorer working class….now fooled by NuLabour that working benefits , not job investment and higher wages are a better investment.

        Given that the North of England , and Scotland , has had its industry removed over the last 40 years , thus wealth , with little to replace it , then that political goal works , warfare on the worker , to be broken into compliance – is through deliberate underinvestment.

        The State within a State is the problem , if it is allowed to be.

        London has far too much polical power , so keeps the economic power within its confines , bolstered by areas of highest investment near it , expanding the colony , bending democracy to prevent change through overwhelming increase of numbers , generationally , while it lowers population densities elsewhere , the oppostion , by deliberate lack of investment.

        Thatchers war on the unions was the first salvo in the war on the worker , that is if you ignore the mill owners vs private enterprise , ie the wealthy vs weavers before it.

        But then we have to add that those that depend on the crumbs offered outside of LaSE , being part of the problem not the solution. Where the Blue on the political map of Scotland is well , the most blue.

        West Dumbartonshire , Aberdeen , part of Renfrewshire , the Southern farming regions , all of whom will adopt and be that colonial outpost within the indigenous people. WIll also oppose any change , say for AGR that could , and would redress it over the longer term.

        Westminster does not do investment outside of London , with the obvious exception of promised ones that will enable land value increases and profit from it for the normal elite few , ie HS2 , or to trickle funds to likeminded regional geographies where crumbs are a lifeline.

        But where lies the Steel for Hs2 when furnaces in the Uk are going cold?

        The carriages and engine jobs also lie outside of not just London , but the Uk itself…. in China , Korea , even Belguim , Germany and Holland.

        But were that importing to change towards Uk employment and sourcing , the business ideology is different than just low cost supply.The very accounting you mention for decom , say being actual investment from hs2 instead , is extremely silent.

        Instead , reducing the import ratio on hs2.

        Then we would see short term employment and importantly less capital leaving the Uk , but the wages and importantly taxes from it remaining – a secondary byproduct to GDP , of extra local income and investment , albeit with a higher cost initially on the accounts , but over the longer term increased GDP.

        Has anyone from any GOVT dept argued that fact , no , therefore the attack on the worker remains.

        Hs2 though is an investment in gentryfying London , and the few profitting from its HPI first and external land purchase second , while using the Midlands line for commuting workers into London , where they can not afford to Live – but have to work in.

        Not happy with imports of one variety at the cost of regional manufacturing jobs , its importing service jobs into London from the same country , reducing and driving down wages , increasing the personal income of the few.

        There is a reason why the elite have doubled their wealth since the beginning of the financial crisis , and austerity has led to food banks for the worker.

        Democracy is a sham , politics is the protection of wealth for the few , where the masses are voting short term , and the elite have been using their short term psychology against them generationally. AGR you are right to champion is a way to redress that.

        The French do though do investment into failing Private French companies , and have learned in the last 30 years how to do it right , with a part ownership scheme being the very least from 6 percent , to 85 percent plus being the max… in return for investment into private companies , as well as state ones.

        Bear in mind here though that the French are anti any other EU government being a part owner , ie RBS and the Uk , it simulaenously bends the rules and expects its enforcement outwith its borders , with the aid of other EU countries like Germany and Spain – whom do the same.

        They , France , have then an overly weighted seat on the board on any companies it is invested into , thus a bigger say than individual or corporate investors for it .

        PSA , EDF seeing as how we are mentioning Hinkley , Renault , Sncf , areva nuclear , and numerous other industries where the turnover is in the several hundred billion euros combined are the norm – unlike the Uk. So they do see the advantages of keeping a manufacturing core for self supply at least , ie ADDED VALUE of the secondary income for GDP vs importing and lower cost.

        But then again they are no stranger to the people rising against the establishment , so perhaps their politicians may be just like those in the UK , but are a little more cunning or weary in how they operate the wealth scam for it.

        1. Ian Kirkwood says:

          Yes, we continue to enjoy tax induced depopulation at the economic periphery despite living in the 21st century. AGR would stop this by collecting high and low rents by location – a truly progressive measure – allowing life at the margin to become affordable and enterprises there economic.

          You may wish to see my short article on cancelling depopulation of Scotland’s periphery at https://www.facebook.com/AGRforScotland/photos/a.1592027801115366.1073741828.1573184836332996/1592606227724190/?type=3&theater

  6. Fallout Boy says:

    Is the opposition to Trident moral or economic…because at least for the SNP it’s not both given they are still committed to an independent Scotland being a member of NATO. In other words they are happy to benefit from the security provided ultimately by “sociopathic” Nuclear weapons…they just refuse to pay for it. What an honourable position…you all must be so proud.

    As for Nuclear power…the uncomfortable fact is that if you believe in anthropegenic global warming as caused by fossil fuels then in countries not blessed with abundant hydroelectric or geothermal potential, nuclear power is the cleanest most reliable source of power. It is worth remembering that the environmental effects of our worst nuclear incidents pale into insignificance against the long term effects of burning fossil fuels

    1. Its widely acknowledged that we have the greatest renewable energy resources in Europe…

      1. Fallout Boy says:

        The problem with sea and wind and solar renewables is not their availability but the erraticness of their supply and that to date we have no efficient way of storing their energy to balance that out. So until that problem is resolved there will always be need for a steady secure source of energy of which Nuclear is the cleanest

        1. c rober says:

          Fallout boy , thats where investment matters.

          Storage you are right is lacking for renewables , and is a stumbling block for the argument towards it , however Costa Rica managed a near 100 percent use without ANY storage.

          Erraticness , this is where the EU grid would come into play , where river , sea , wind and solar works. Then expansion to North Africa , the EU island regions off the West Coast of Africa. Theres always renewable power being created somewhere , tides and seas are in flux , sun is always going to be there for a few billion years yet.

          We already have a two grids for gas , from Russia and Norway , so that investment into a eco grid can be done , has been done for one form of fuel already , so creating a new one is negating the need for storage outwith the home itself , but even that is something that Musk is already working on.

          We can also use it , rather than export via a shared EU grid , for the local capture of Hydrogen during the low use cycle , when we sleep but may have high winds.Many hands , light work , trying to do a large scale capture has higher cost and lower returns , than local storage.

          Hydrogen may use a lot of electricity to produce it out of the air or water , but it can be stored safely locally , in a tank about the size of a septic one or smaller if compressed , then used for feeding home fuel cells. Which would also aid the water supply , the byproduct is pure clean water , without filtering and chemicals.

          There are solutions , especially so if we convert to low voltage homes , where smaller batteries become cheaper , or the created hydrogen need is smaller , the bills are smaller. This is building planning for the future , and importantly a devolved power in a nation of fuel poverty.

          We already do use low voltage , led lighting and TV , mobile chargers , computers , set top boxes , most of the electical items in the home are LV , even underfloor heating .They are always converted from 240 ac , a relic of electicity supply , down to 24v or less. And there in lies the challenge , the problem being educaiton of the end user to the fact they already do LV , vut are paying a premium for it.

          However that challenge is mitigated through their own want , ie showing lower bills means better income vs outgoings , and of course legislation house building for the future – based around a Low voltage use is that way forward.

          1. c rober says:

            Another way of harnessing energy during low use , ie nightime high winds.


  7. Doubting Thomas says:

    The whole renewables issue is a massive con which the SNP are happy to promote.
    Investment in renewables does not come from the power companies but from landowners who then benefit from absurdly high feed in tariffs at the expense of all of us who buy energy as we pay the energy companies a substantial surcharge on our bills to support this.
    It is really wealth redistribution on a gigantic scale towards people who already have wealth. Hardly a progressive policy.
    There is a massive rush to complete schemes at present as these feed in tariffs are being reduced at the end of this year.
    Financially they are as good as striking gold for these landowners as current tariffs are facilitating pay back of investment in circa 8 years on average. They then benefit from income streams for the life of the equipment which will be at least 50 years and in some cases up to 120 years. Small generating schemes are earning around £9000 per month with larger ones pulling in huge sums.
    Green electricity is not cheap and as I said it is we the consumer who is paying more than we should to via the surcharges . The fact that they also get paid for not generating when the demand on the grid is low means they jut cant lose.

    1. c rober says:

      Your right , all green electricity is not cheap , but some are or can be. Oil price fluctuations , gas , coal , nuclear are not cheap either. Costa Rica? http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/24/costa-rica-renewables/ and state owned.

      But you are wrong on surchages and increased pricing as a result , you obviously like to swallow the energy co lies , gas prices at their lowest for over a year , with no decrease in the same percentages. As long as they dont have to change , then they wont.

      Energy prices will continue to rise , renewables are a beginning , something to be grown on to redress that.

      Privatising energy has not led to lower prices through competition , it has led to coalitions on pricing.

      Selling off national industries , where Westminster cried it was EU legislation to open markets is a lie , just look at EDF , the supplier of the future hinkley powerstation – it is wholly state owned. So if it is a EU legislation that we had to open our markets , and privatise our fuel and energy markets , then why has France been let off?

      The future is to tell the big 5 that there will be no other option , after say 40 years , then it will be cheaper , the onus on their own survival will make it that way , or those that hold their loans , ie the banks will.

      Darwinian business practice , adapt and overcome – or die.

      Again you are right on the land owners and fits , the Queen for example through the estates is the single biggest benefactor , however that is mitigated by it being sent to Westminster , to cover benefits for the wealthy , ie the civil list , so why not to Holyrood?

      This is something that would be redressed with AGR , and fit being devolved to Holyrood.

      However there is decent non tenant , owner farmers , not offshore owned estates , that should be able to to profit from a crop… within reason , or use that cheap electricty to decrease their working costs , thus the pricing itself to the consumer.

      The creation of a peoples Scottish national bank to fund this , where the elecos have to buy from the state to sell to the open market , well it is another way to ensure competitive pricing , through limiting profits , and equalising the cost to non fluctuation pricing vs oil , coal , gas.

      That bank could be created with a referendum on increasing the income tax rate , where the people can choose to destroy Westminsters poison chalice for their future benefit , through socially shared taxpayer ownership and therfore reduced fuel bills , ironic considering they used to own the industry anyway.

      1. c rober says:

        Doubting Thomas.

        http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/11/germany-renewable-energy/ , so efficient the price of electricity went negative.

        1. Doubting Thomas says:

          You cannot seriously make a comparison between energy cost and policy in Germany and here.
          If you do then you are miles off the mark.
          The average consumer in Germany did not benefit from this so called negative pricing.
          And you are completely wrong about the effect of the feed in tariffs on pricing by the distribution companies selling electricity to the population at large.
          The distributors recover the difference in cost directly from each consumer.
          The growth in renewables (which as I said has not been because of investment by the large energy companies but by landowners including estates owned by off shore trusts and companies) has been achieved by maintaining electricity prices at high levels paid by the consumer.
          The SNP have bought into this.
          Take it further and look at the wholesale price of oil and gas and look at the menial reductions retailed to the consumer.
          Look at how the retail prices are starting to creep up very slowly but surely.
          The SNP have not said a word about this as they know that getting revenue up from both oil and gas is the only way they will ever fill the economic void in their policies.

          1. c rober says:

            I notice you avoided Costa Rica , state owned as well.

            As to whether the SNP have bought into it , and if you read other posts I have against the SNP on other policies , I cannot comment on whether you are right or wrong. But I would and do challenge them at every opportunity.

            We already have legislation to 100 percent renewables by 2050 , so why not take advantage of cheap steel and other metals , cheap energy (ish and at present) , in order to reduce the cost to implement , ie make hay while the sun shines.

            Other items I have already addressed , ie the slow decrease in price to consumer. This is where Westminster comes in , or doesnt , as they hold those levers. Unlikely to see any change , other than verbose and minor , after all oil wars are their bag , right back to the creation of BP.

            But if like me you agree that the status qou on energy is a lie , ie EU insitance , then Westminster is as corrupt as a third world nation , and the public swallows it. HMG do very little to redress the big 5 monopoly of collusion , hardly the open market fight for survival , leading to lower prices for the consumer it is portrayed as.

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