Anti-nuclear campaigners have criticised the decision to transport nuclear warheads over a distance of almost 450 miles to the Coulport armaments depot near Helensburgh during the pandemic.

A convoy carrying the weapons is understood to have left the Atomic Weapons Establishment site at Burghfield, Berkshire, on Wednesday morning and arrived at the storage facility on Loch Long, 442 miles away, that evening.

The Nukewatch UK campaign group claims the convoy would have involved at least 50 personnel, including a crew change, and said it travelled along the M6 and on the M8 through Glasgow city centre.

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Jane Tallents of Nukewatch UK said: “We never think this is essential travel, and certainly at the moment there is no justification for putting us at further risk of potentially overwhelming the NHS if there was an accident.”

She also voiced fears over the movement of workers who could potentially be carrying coronavirus.

She added: “It is never right to possess and deploy nuclear weapons and transport them on public roads. Doing it right now is completely irresponsible.”

Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament chairwoman Lynn Jamieson said the “transport of nuclear bombs across the English-Scottish border is always an unnecessary journey”.

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She added: “The purpose, ensuring British capacity to threaten mass destruction, diverts efforts away from genuine world security while risking a catastrophic accident.”

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “This move is part of an essential military operation and has been carefully planned.

“Government health advice is being followed at all times and the movement of staff in public areas will be kept to a minimum.”