South Scotland

Dundrennan weapon test legality questioned

Shell firing
Image caption The Ministry of Defence has said full monitoring has been in place around the range over the years

Concerns have been raised about the legality of weapon testing using depleted uranium in southern Scotland.

It follows EU legislation to protect the marine environment which bans the dumping of waste at sea.

DU shells have been fired off the coast at the Dundrennan range near Kirkcudbright for more than 30 years.

Campaigners are seeking a delay to any further tests. The Ministry of Defence has said full monitoring has been in place around the range for many years.

Thousands of rounds have been fired into the Solway over years of testing.

Minutes from an internal Ministry of Defence committee - released as part of a Freedom of Information request - note a discussion on the interpretation of the OSPAR convention on waste dumping.

Members concluded that they could avoid breaching the legislation by saying that DU projectiles were "placed" not "dumped" in the sea.

This has angered campaigners who argue that by exploiting a loophole, the MoD is able to continue firing nuclear waste into the Solway with impunity.

They claim the ministry has little idea of how its controversial programme affects the marine environment, and has no plans to recover the spent DU on cost grounds.

An MoD spokeswoman said there were no plans for any test firing at Dundrennan at present.

She added: "All testing is in accordance with procedures agreed with the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency."

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