Military helicopters parked on Eribol Farm during the recent joint maritime course. The yellow bloom in the foreground comes from whins (or "gorse").

 

JULY 2001 - NO. 117

MoD defends position over ‘no notice’ claims in Durness

The Ministry of Defence has dismissed claims that no warning was given to Durness residents of a recent joint maritime course using the Cape Wrath bombing range. Cape Wrath minibus operator, Iris Mackay, was among those who lost significant business during the week of the exercise which she described as “horrendous” and “frightening”. She had to remove plates and mirrors from walls to save them from damage, she said.

“We have a standard routine that we give at least six weeks notice of events happening,” said MoD spokesman Lt Commander Lorne Robertson. “But in addition myself and the range warden, Harry Munro, make a point of going round and telling people what’s going to be happening on the range. Certainly all the people concerned were told and have the information about the exercises on their calendars — it was notified.” The courses have taken place regularly for thirty years, he said.

He added: “We constantly review the usage of the range and since the MoD has bought the land we may be looking to maximise the potential of the land in the future. However, it will be done with full consultation and I do not envisage any change to the opening and closing period so that the July and August closed period will remain intact, to allow people access to the land during the summer months”. He insisted that the course, although large-scale, was not the biggest ever.

The MoD has appointed a full-time officer — Captain David Halpin — for the range although he will live in Dornoch, commuting to and from the range about two or three times a year, all year.

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