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Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on new technologies for detecting and removing landmines; if he will list such new technologies that have been tested in the field; under what conditions such technologies have been tested; and in which mine-affected countries they are now operational. [101294]

Research into mine detection, and destruction or removal, continues to be undertaken by several firms in the United Kingdom. A wide range of technologies have been tested, including: ground penetrating radar; magnetometers (sometimes combined with GPS locating equipment); aerial platforms for mine detection equipment; vehicle mounted mine detection and marking equipment; mine destruction flails; mine destruction and lifting rotators and scarifiers; and pyrotechnic disposal tools. Tests have included remote controlled equipment of all types. Testing work has also been carried out with explosive and mine detection dogs.Technologies have been tested under control conditions against dummy targets (for example, a known number of targets buried at a known depth in a known location and in a certain type of soil), in dummy minefields laid in typical conditions found in various parts of the world, and under control conditions against live targets. Equipment that is derived from or has benefited from these tests is operational in the Middle and Far East, in Africa, and in Europe (including Bosnia and Kosovo).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel are involved in landmine clearance; and in which countries they are working. [101295]

There are no British troops currently involved in landmine clearance. British troops may be required to clear mines on a war fighting deployment in support of operations. They may also be required to carry out limited mine clearance operations or operations other than war if the local situation demands. However, mine clearance on humanitarian operations will normally be passed to appropriate United Nations or civilian contractors.