25 July, 2023
The UK House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee has published its report ‘Defence in Scotland: the North Atlantic and High North‘. The inquiry sought to identify the security threats the UK faced in and emanating from these regions, assess the government’s response in addressing them, and the role of Scotland. The HSC contributed written evidence, and Deputy Director Dr Rowan Allport was subsequently invited to give expert testimony in front of the committee.
The HSC evidence the report referenced included our assertion of the risk of a conflict in other parts of the world spilling over into the Arctic, the important role Russia’s fleet of ballistic missile-carrying submarines play’s in Moscow’s security architecture, the threat of disruption to undersea pipelines and cables poses, the vital role the Arctic plays in NATO’s ‘northern flank’ and in supporting the free use of the North Atlantic in wartime, the extensive presence of military assets relevant to the regions being examined in Scotland, and the inadequate number of P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft operated by or planned for the RAF.
Amongst the reports recommendations were that the government should:
- consider how the effects of climate change might create new defence and security responsibilities in the future, in particular for naval policing and search and rescue
- continue considering how it can best contribute to diplomacy and collaborative problem-solving in the North Atlantic and the High North
- refresh the MoD’s Arctic Defence Strategy every five years in light of the evolving challenges the UK faced in the region
- seek to promote and uphold the principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), produce and publish a strategy for protecting offshore infrastructure
- set out what scope it considers for the defence presence in Scotland to be sufficiently scaled up to respond to a scenario where the UK has greater obligations in the North Atlantic and the High North
- address the concerns over whether the number of P-8, E7 and Typhoon aircraft is sufficient to provide the coverage required in the North Atlantic and the High North