DEFENCE chiefs have raised concerns that the country's nuclear submarine fleet could be put at risk by Scotland's offshore wind farm scheme.

Plans to erect hundreds of wind turbines off the west coast sparked fears over the safety of nuclear submarines operating out of Faslane Naval Base after MoD sources described the plans as "hazardous".

They warned offshore renewable developments could hamper access to the Clyde's Trident base, as well as increase the risk of submarines running aground or colliding.

Marine Scotland, a Scottish Government body, has identified 15 new areas –including swathes of the west coast – where offshore wind farms could be developed. However, there are concerns two of the sites could pose problems for submarines operating in the areas, as plans would leave only a narrow stretch of sea through which they would navigate.

A senior MoD source also claimed the turbines could cause chaos with the vessels' radars by distorting sonar images needed to navigate through what is already a tight passage.

There are also fears that the plans for the turbines and other energy projects could threaten the fishing industry, and spoil views.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "All of the initial search areas will be subject to further analysis by Marine Scotland to identify sites, with the review process not expected to conclude until spring 2013."