Highlands & Islands

MoD accused of expanding sub test area without consultation

HMS Astute Image copyright AFP
Image caption Astute-class attack submarines are among the Royal Navy's boats that use the Inner Sound's ranges

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been accused of almost doubling the size of a submarine test site in Scotland without any prior consultation.

The British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre (BUTEC) is in the Inner Sound between the Isle of Raasay and Applecross on the mainland.

Fishing is banned in the BUTEC which was six miles (10km) long, three miles (6km) wide and up to 656ft (200m) deep.

MSP Dave Thompson said fishermen should have been asked about expanding it.

The SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said the exclusion zone was to be expanded to the shorelines of the Inner Sound.

The MoD has been asked for a response to the claims.

Attack submarines

Mr Thompson told BBC Scotland: "I have no problem with them putting in greater investment and developing the area.

"But if they wish to expand the restricted area, which will stop other people from earning a living, then any extra benefit to the local community will be totally negated."

The BUTEC provides a sonar and weapon system tests area for the Royal Navy crews of Vanguard-class nuclear weapon submarines and Astute and Trafalgar-class attack submarines.

Fishing is prohibited in the area and fishing boats and other vessels can only remain in the BUTEC for as long as it is necessary for them to pass through the Inner Sound.

The submarine ranges are run from a site near Kyle of Lochalsh.

In 2009, politicians including Lib Dem MP Charles Kennedy campaigned to have the centre safeguarded against planned cuts to UK military spending.

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