London 2012: Olympic missiles sites confirmed

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Ground-based air defence systems will be sited at six locations in and around London during the Olympic Games, despite opposition from residents.

The missiles - including rapier and high-velocity systems - will be in place from mid-July, the MoD confirmed.

Plans also include the use of helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, which will be moored in the River Thames.

RAF Typhoon jets will be stationed at RAF Northolt, and Puma helicopters at a Territorial Army centre in Ilford.

'Small number of activists'

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the ground-based air defence systems were "just one part of a comprehensive, multi-layered air security plan" which would provide "both reassurance and a powerful deterrent".

They would go ahead despite objections from a "small number of activists," he said.

"We have undertaken a wide programme of engagement with the communities affected, involving relevant local authorities, landowners, MPs, council leaders, and community meetings.

"These have shown that, while people understandably have questions and concerns which we have sought to answer, broadly speaking communities are supportive of our work."

Some 100 sites were considered as locations for ground missiles, before this was narrowed down to the six final sites which were deemed to offer the best possible protection to the Olympic Park and surrounding area against any air threat.

The sites, and the specific systems to be deployed at them, are:

  • Lexington Building, Fairfield Road, Bow, Tower Hamlets - high-velocity missile
  • Fred Wigg Tower, Montague Road Estate, Waltham Forest - high-velocity missile
  • Blackheath Common, Blackheath (Lewisham/Greenwich) - rapier
  • William Girling Reservoir, Lea Valley Reservoir Chain, Enfield - rapier
  • Oxleas Meadow, Shooters Hill, Greenwich/Woolwich - rapier
  • Barn Hill, Netherhouse Farm, Epping Forest - rapier

The plans have sparked a campaign by residents, who say 1,000 people have signed a petition in protest.

Residents of Fred Wigg Tower have also launched legal proceedings against the missiles' siting.

Solicitors instructed by the residents' association said their challenge is set to reach the High Court on 9 July.

Responding to the MoD's confirmation of the plans Chris Nineham, 49, from Bow, who is part of the Stop the Olympic Missiles campaign said: "This is a decision that flies in the face of good sense and also the opinions and feeling of the people who live in the area."

"Sitting missiles on housing estates makes people feel a lot less secure."

A decision based on the threat level as to whether the systems will remain throughout the Paralympics - from 29 August until 9 September - has yet to be made.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The government has reserved the right to extend the airspace restrictions, and the deployment of military assets, including ground based air defence, if an assessment of the threat level warrants it."

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