I’m sure this doesn’t happen that often…
Daily Archives: March 14, 2012
I’m sure this doesn’t happen that often…
Letter from local Lib Dem councillors:
Surface-to-air missiles on Blackheath
Many residents will be concerned to hear that a Rapier surface-to-air missile system might be deployed on Blackheath during the Olympics. Following on from a briefing by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Metropolitan Police at last night’s Blackheath Assembly meeting, we can confirm that Blackheath is being considered as one of six potential missile bases.
Blackheath has been selected because of its height and vantage point over London and the Thames corridor. The actual site has been located as the area immediately outside Holly Hedge House (the TA centre). The defence system consists of a missile launcher, radar sensor and tracker and will be guarded by unarmed military police. An enclosure will be erected around the equipment, the size of which is currently being determined.
At present, information is being gathered by the MoD and fed to the Secretary of State for Defence, who will make the ultimate decision about what is sited where, by early summer. We have got a guarantee that there will be further consultation with residents before a decision on final deployment.
We have ascertained that the footprint used will be as small as possible and there will be no restrictions on using the heath or any road closures associated with this.
We felt that the liaison officers from the MoD and the Police were as open as possible within the constraints of national security and we will be pressing them to continue this process of consultation right through to the event.
If you have any specific concerns you wish us to raise with them please let us know.
Is it advisable to tell the public that the military police guarding the missiles will be unarmed?
My parody limit has been reached… I honestly can’t tell any more.
Councillor Chris Maines has forwarded the information leaflet from the MoD, explaining the test.
Below is the text from the PDF.
How are the Armed Forces contributing to the Olympics?
When there is a significant event in the UK, the Civil Authorities seek assistance from the Armed Forces and the Olympics is no different.
As part of the Military Assistance to the Civil Authorities, the Armed Forces are assisting the Police with security for the Olympics
Why are we here?
We are running an exercise locally to test the sensors and communications on our Air Defence Systems which might be used to support the police-led security operation for the Olympics 2012.
As part of our ongoing planning, we are testing the equipment to make sure that, if it is used, it will work effectively in this environment and we will ensure any impact to the local community is noted and addressed.
Why is the military doing this?
The military is providing support to the police security plan for the Olympics, in London and across the UK. We need to make sure our equipment works.
Why has this location been chosen?
This site provides one of the best locations in London for this equipment, should it be decided to deploy it for the Olympics.
Does that mean we are a target?
No. It is not being considered for deployment in response to any specific threat. The equipment has a range of capabilities including its radar and it will represent a powerful deterrent.
Is the equipment safe?
There is no danger to the public from today’s testing.
Will it affect my mobile telephone or my TV network? We have carried out careful planning to make sure it should not interfere with your TV or mobile reception and are confident that this will not occur. Our testing today will confirm this.
What does HVM (the High Velocity Missile) do? HVM is a piece of equipment that we use to protect ourselves against hostile aircraft and helicopters.
What does Rapier do?
The Rapier system can track aircraft using its sensors and if necessary deter an attack from the air.
Why are you testing it without missiles?
We don’t need missiles when we test the sensors and communications systems.
How long will it be here for?
We will only be here for a few hours.
Will you be coming back?
It is probable that we will come back for some further testing or exercising. We will keep local Councils and landowners informed.
Remember, blowing things out of the sky is defence. Not a colossal waste of time and money. And nothing to worry your pretty heads about.
Response from the Blackheath Society
Blackheath has been awash with rumours that air defence missiles will be placed on the Heath to protect the capital during the Olympics.
To the credit of our Lewisham Councillors, security services personnel were brought in to give a briefing to the Blackheath Assembly on 13 March.
Blackheath is one of six sites being evaluated for a possible missile defence system for the duration of the Olympics and some radar equipment was tested on the Heath last week.
We understand that either all six will be chosen, or none. The Blackheath site is opposite Holly Hedge House, the police base for the Olympics. Oxleas Wood is another possible site.
We were told that a final decision as to whether to deploy the system would be made in the early summer and a further test visit is possible.
Our concern is that, if it is decided to go ahead any installation should be as small as possible, especially given the other uses of the Heath by the Olympics already planned.
The security services seemed at pains to acknowledge this, and further consultation was promised.
We await further news.
So now we know where.
My concern isn’t with the the size of the missiles, but the fact that they are used for blowing things up.
Did any of the planning documents mention a missile base?