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Bombshell! Safety questions over bridge

THE official response to a World War Two shell found aboard a scallop dredger has been praised – but questions raised over safety issues around a proposed bridge to Ireland. South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has raised a motion in the Scottish Parliament to commend the Dumfries and Galloway Division of Police Scotland, the Royal Navy and HM Coastguard over their swift response to dealing with unexploded ordnance which was picked up by the boat and brought into Portpatrick harbour. In the motion, while thanking the emergency service response which led to a safe and successful controlled explosion of the device, Miss Harper highlighted what she has described as the 'very real dangers' posed by the munitions dumping ground – Beaufort's Dyke – situated in the North Channel between Scotland ad Northern Ireland. In the motion submitted to the Parliament, Miss Harper quoted official statistics from the Ministry of Defence which show that in excess of one million tons of surplus conventional and chemical weapons have been dumped around the 1,000ft subsea abyss. The motion calls on the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland – who have stated publicly their intention to build either a bridge or tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland – to publish plans on how they would deal with the dangers. Miss Harper said: “Firstly, I want to wholeheartedly thank the Dumfries and Galloway Division of Police Scotland, the Royal Navy and HM Coastguard for dealing with the unexploded ordnance which was picked up by a local scallop dredger and brought into Portpatrick Harbour. The action led to a safe and controlled explosion of the device, which ensured the safety of the dredger's crew and of people locally. “However, given the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland's recent comments of their intention to build a bridge or tunnel connecting Scotland with Northern Ireland, it is important to point out we have a 300 metre-deep, 3.5 kilometre wide, 50 kilometre long trench – Beaufort's Dyke – which, according to the Ministry of Defence, contains over a million tons of surplus conventional and chemical weapons. The site is also an active route of passage for Trident nuclear submarines. “I therefore think that it is only sensible for the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland to publish plans on, should a bridge or tunnel be built, how they would deal with this underwater toxic and explosive dumping site and I look forward to their response on the matter. “Again, I thank Police Scotland, the Royal Navy and HM Coastguard for dealing with the unexploded device in Portpatrick and would encourage anyone looking for any further information to contact me at any time.”

<< back Published: 05 May 2020, 16:40

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