AN INDEPENDENT Scotland's armed forces could cost up to 60% less than the country's present share of UK defence spending, according to an expert.


Dorcha Lee, a retired colonel in the Irish Defence Forces, estimated an annual defence budget of about £1.4 billion for an independent Scotland.

The figure compares with Scotland's £3.3bn contribution to UK defence spending and is also substantially lower than the £2.5bn the SNP has pledged to spend on a Scottish Defence Force if the country becomes independent.

Mr Lee rejected the SNP's plan to build the SDF around existing Scots-raised Army units and argued an independent Scotland should start from scratch.

He envisaged a military in which soldiers live at home in the local community and spend less time on overseas assignments. He also recommends a 10-year period to remove Trident nuclear weapons from Faslane on the Clyde.

Hisproposals, first revealed in The Herald's sister paper, the Sunday Herald, have been published by the Institute of Internional and European Affairs.

SNP Westminster Leader and Defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP said: "An independent Scotland woul not be starting from scratch. The key difference is Scotland would decide how to spend money it already contributes.

"Independence would mean a defence force which represents the will of the Scottish people while making substantial savings."