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Saltfleet Bombing Range (Re-Opening)

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 19 May 1954

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asked the Undersecretary of State for Air if he will make a statement on the results of the experiments at Saltfleet bombing by radar; how far bombing in future will be made away from land as a result of this revolutionary practice; and what future use he intends to make of the Saltfleet range.

My hon. Friend will recall that this range was closed on 1st December, 1953, after several irregular releases during high-level bombing practice. I am now satisfied, as a result of recent experiments in radar-plotting, that this type of bombing can in future be carried out efficiently three or four miles from the shore, so that there should be no risk of further incident. We therefore propose to re-open the range for all types of bombing practice as soon as the necessary equipment can be installed.

Will the range be used a great deal, and can my hon. Friend give me an assurance on behalf of my constituents that they will not be subject to the dangers that they suffered some six months ago?

A good deal will depend on the success with which we are able to achieve the introduction of this new method at other coastal ranges. I think it is unlikely that Saltfleet will be used less intensively than in the past, but I think that there is a very good chance indeed that we shall now completely overcome all these difficulties.

If by mischance the new method does not prove successful, will my hon. Friend give an undertaking to close down the range?