South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has been campaigning for the UK Government to disclose whether Beaufort’s Dyke, a radioactive World War Two munitions dump site in the North Channel, is regularly risk assessed and safety checked.

Ms Harper has raised questions over the safety of an estimated increase in unexploded ordnance washing ashore Dumfries and Galloway Beaches, such as at Luce Bay, Portpatrick, Stranraer and Port William. We know that these bombs, formally referred to as unexploded ordnance, are coming from in and around the radioactive trench in the which, according to the MOD, is where over 50,000 tons of explosives have been dumped. The real figure may actually be significantly higher.

The MOD have refused to say whether the site has been, or is being, risk assessed. Ms Harper has written to the Scottish Secretary, and has submitted an FOI to the MOD, but is yet to receive a response.

Ms Harper has now received a very positive response from the Scottish Government’s Justice Secretary, Keith Brown. Mr Brown has contacted the UK Defence Secretary, outlining the Scottish Government’s strong concerns on the issue and is seeking assurances on the safety of Beaufort’s Dyke.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I don’t think many people across Wigtownshire are happy with a radioactive dumpsite on their door step. According to the MOD’s own information, over 50,000 tons of explosives, are disposed of in Beaufort’s Dyke, just off our coast in the Irish Sea. To think that this site is not regularly safety checked, and that it is responsible for what is perceived to be an increase of unexploded bombs washing ashore our beaches, is deeply concerning.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s actions in contacting the UK Government to request urgent clarity over the safety of Beaufort’s Dyke and over whether it is being risk assessed appropriately. These explosives washing ashore our beaches could have potentially devastating consequences.

“I encourage everyone visiting our local beaches to be vigilant of any metallic or rusty metal container, that may have bene washed ashore that may actually be an unexploded bomb or chemical weapon, to call the Coastguard if they see anything. The Coastguard does have a helpful guide for what to do if you come across unexploded ordnance.

“ I look forward to hearing back from the Scottish Government on this matter soon and will keep all constituents updated.”

Keith Brown, Scottish Government Justice Secretary said in response to Emma Harper:

“Policy responsibility for munitions disposal at sea within UK waters, including Beaufort’s Dyke, rests with the Ministry of Defence.

“The recent examples (Emma Harper) cites of unexploded ordnance washing ashore is a stark reminder of the risk they present to people and the environment. It is unacceptable for the UK Government not to carry out routine safety checks or have a robust risk assessment in place for managing the munitions dumped at Beaufort’s Dyke.

“I will write to the Secretary for State for Defence outlining the Scottish Government’s strong concerns on this issue and seek clarification that the Ministry of Defence has recently analysed all current and future risks associated with unexploded ordnance washing ashore”.

(Header image photograph credit: Friedemann Vogel/EPA)