REMOVING Trident from an independent Scotland could mean removing the nuclear deterrent from the whole UK for "an indeterminate period" –possibly 20 years, MPs will claim today.

They will also insist the independence referendum should not go ahead unless voters fully understand the consequences of independence for Britain's nuclear deterrent.

In a report, the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee – which does not have SNP representation – calls on the UK and Scottish Governments to work out a contingency plan before people vote in the autumn 2014 poll.

The committee accepts Trident could be "disarmed within days and removed within months" but points out relocating Britain's nuclear deterrent would cost several billions of pounds and it would take many years to replicate the safety facilities at Coulport, where the warheads are kept.

"We want all this sorted out by the time people come to vote," Labour's Ian Davidson, the committee chairman, told The Herald. "If the SNP says the weapons will have to be moved within 24 months, then the UK will have to start planning for that."

He insisted both governments had to "fully detail the consequences of the removal of Trident as part of the whole secession agreement as soon as is practical", adding that no vote on independence should go ahead without the Scottish people "fully understanding the consequences of separation for defence and the UK's nuclear deterrent".

The issue of the nuclear deterrent is likely to be the most fraught for London and Edinburgh across the negotiating table, if Scotland were to vote for independence.

The SNP is committed to the "speediest safe transition" of Trident out of Scotland following any yes vote.

Mr Davidson said an independent Scotland would be faced with a choice over Trident either to honour its long-standing commitment to get rid of it or keep it long enough on the Clyde for the UK Government to identify and develop a new base somewhere else. He stressed the UK Government had made clear the costs of any relocation would be included in intergovernmental negotiations.