Systematic sweep of Scapa Flow military ordnance needed – Carmichael

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on the Ministry of Defence to make a “systematic sweep” of Scapa Flow to remove any remaining ordnance from Northern Isles waters and protect local fishermen.

Scapa Flow served as the main British naval base during the Second World War but its historic legacy has caused modern day difficulties for fishermen. Speaking in Parliament yesterday Mr Carmichael referred to the case of his constituent Ian Spence, who encountered unexploded ordnance earlier this year:

“Fishermen working in Scapa Flow occasionally still dredge up ordnances left from the Second World War. My constituent, Ian Spence, did exactly that in January this year. For the loss of a day’s fishing and damage to his gear, and indeed the personal danger in which he was put, he was given an ex gratia payment of £228. Can the Secretary of State explain to me, and to him, why he considers that to be adequate?”

In response, Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace MP said:

“I will have to look at the detail of that case, and I’ll be happy to write to him. Obviously, a compensation or liability is obviously linked at some stage to who was at fault, and I will definitely make sure I furnish him with the details.”

Speaking after the exchange, Alistair Carmichael said:

“It was not fishermen who left unexploded historic ordnance around the Northern Isles but they have been paying the price in working time and personal safety. The government has a responsibility for these historic military sites.

“We need a systematic sweep of Scapa Flow to clear out any remaining ordnance. I will be writing to the Secretary of State this week so that we can finally make progress and ensure that Mr Spence’s case leads to a real change in policy.”

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