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Compensation (Shoeburyness)

Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

1. What representations he has received on provision of compensation to people whose properties have been damaged by explosions at Shoeburyness. (324443)

The work at Shoeburyness is directly linked to saving the lives of service personnel on operations in Afghanistan, providing, among other things, essential pre-deployment training in the safe and controlled disposal of improvised explosive devices and similar ordnance. In 2009, I received three representations, with a further two so far this year, from people claiming that their properties had been damaged by noise and vibrations caused by activities at MOD Shoeburyness.

Everyone accepts that our armed forces need to train at Shoeburyness. However, many of the explosions are caused not by our armed forces’ training, but by commercial waste disposal from which big corporate interests profit. Will the Minister give an undertaking for full transparency, so that local people are made aware of which explosions are being caused in the interests of our armed forces and which in the interests of crony capitalists?

I know that the hon. Gentleman is not a great supporter of our defence industries in this country, but let me tell him that the amount of ordnance exploded at Shoeburyness that is not related to training—this is, the disposal of ordnance that is out of date or that the MOD needs to get rid of in a controlled way—comes to 5 per cent. That is done in partnership with QinetiQ, a world-beating company that we should be proud of. As for trying to hamper us and put more in the way of our training, I am sorry, but that would be a misuse of the MOD’s time.