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Electromagnetic Guns

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment has been made of the effects on the environment of the US electromagnetic gun tests at Dundrennan; [1302471(2) when the trials of the new US electromagnetic gun at Dundrennan are expected to conclude; [130248](3) whether a review is planned of the safety procedures involved in the US electromagnetic gun trials at Dundrennan; [130463](4) what representations have been received from the local community on the dangers involved in the trials of the US electromagnetic gun at Dundrennan. [130464]

The Ministry of Defence and the United States Army have been working together on a collaborative research programme into the Electro-Magnetic gun at Dundrennan range, in Kirkcudbright, since 1993. In December 2002, we jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US to continue this long-standing project agreement until 2009.Extensive tests have proven that the electro-magnetic radiation from the gun is negligible and that it has no effect on the environment.The safe operation of defence ranges is of paramount importance. Safety procedures at Dundrennan have been tried and tested over the last 10 years without incident. Risk assessments are conducted prior to each series of firings and strict operating procedures are followed. Safety procedures are constantly reviewed and updated in line with the progress of the trial, and all safety procedures are independently audited.We have received a limited number of representations from the local community regarding the possible dangers associated with the Electro-Magnetic gun testing at Dundrennan. The correspondence received specifically focuses on the perceived use of depleted uranium, but also reflects some general concerns, which have been generated by articles in the press. The Electro-Magnetic gun's projectiles do not contain depleted uranium, nor do they contain any explosives.The high velocity of the projectile round generates the penetrative effect, not the projectile's mass or density.