AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would be owed £4.7 billion in defence assets and cash by the rest of the UK even after taking military hardware identified in SNP defence plans, the party has claimed.

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said Scotland's share of UK defence assets amounted to £7.7bn.

The party's defence plans are based on taking hardware valued at £1.6bn and land worth £1.4bn, leaving a debt of £4.7bn owed by the UK, the MP claimed.

He said his figures, based on answers to parliamentary questions, showed an independent Scotland could meet the start-up costs of creating a new military force. He said: "Scotland's fair share of existing defence assets will make an excellent start to better defence arrangements after independence."

The Scottish Government's defence plan includes taking two Type 23 frigates, worth £150m between them, four minesweepers, valued at £134m, and 16 Typhoon fighter jets, worth £977m.

Land and property inherited by the proposed Scottish Defence Force would include the Faslane naval base on the Clyde, the Leuchars and Lossiemouth RAF bases.

The SNP has faced claims it could not run its planned forces for the £2.5bn annual budget set out in its independence White Paper.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "This demonstrates the SNP's total lack of understanding of how defence works. These proposals... would leave the Scottish people less secure than they are as part of the UK."

Meanwhile, English campaigners have urged Scots to vote for independence.

The 30-strong group, headed by Anthony Barnett, founder of the Charter88 group which campaigned for a written constitution, said the prospect of Scottish independence was "thrilling".

The group includes environmental campaigners and Green Party figures, including former London mayoral candidate Sian Berry.

In a statement, they said: "The Scots have the opportunity to set an example for us all, and so to help we English liberate ourselves too."