The Ministry of Defence is being challenged to come clean about its environmental footprint in Scotland, amid anger that swathes of land and sea have been scorched and polluted by it over the past century. The SNP says much of the MoD’s activities are shrouded in secrecy and wants it to publish a full audit of defence operations as a precursor to “rehabilitating” affected regions, including marine areas. Nationalists claim Scotland has been used as a dumping ground for chemical and radioactive waste since the 1950s and that the MoD has refused to divulge what could still be lurking on the seabed. Defence officials insist the scale and nature of many historical operations are no longer known because records were not kept or lost. The SNP also raises concern about the environmental impact of decades of weapons testing and a “catalogue” of safety breaches at Faslane, the nuclear submarine base. More than 500 “significant” health and safety incidents were recorded at the site last year. The issue will be raised at the party’s annual conference this month, in a motion put forward by Deidre Brock, the nationalist MP for Edinburgh North and Leith. The SNP motion, signed by Brock and Stewart McDonald, the party’s defence spokesman, states: “Little to no monitoring of the environmental impact of these operations is undertaken and little is known about the impact of MoD activities. We call for a full environmental audit of defence operations, current and historical, across Scotland’s land and waters as a precursor to environmental remediation and rehabilitation by the MoD.” The MoD has promised a deep clean of Dalgety Bay in Fife, where scrapped instrument panels from Second World War aircraft have contaminated the beach with radium. Douglas Chapman, the SNP MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, said the department had to be dragged “kicking and screaming” to take responsibility. He has called for greater transparency in other MoD operations. Chapman suggests that independent environmental inspectors be posted on large vessels to ensure compliance.
Times 6th Oct 2019 read more »