The Danish Peace Academy
Response (September 2003) to UK Ministry of Defence 'RAF Fylingdales Upgraded Early Warning Radar: Environment and Land Use Report' (23 June 2003)
By Anne Lee1
On 29 January 2003, the UK House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) issued a statement in which they accused the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, of stifling the debate about the decision to permit the use of Fylingdales for the US Missile Defense system.
'Despite the Secretary of State's unequivocal statement that he wanted the decision to be informed by public and parliamentary discussion, he has acted in a way that has effectively curtailed such discusions'.
The HCDC demanded further information about the nature of the Early Warning Radar upgrade and its operations. They stated that:
- The upgrade will not simply be replacement of old computer systems. It will be a change of use. In addition to the radar identification and tracking capabilities the upgrade will incorporate ‘support [for] the capability of the interceptor missiles’.
- The existing agreements, which allow the USA’s operations at Fylingdales and Menwith Hill, do not permit the use of these Bases for US Missile Defence.
- The possible hazard of the radio frequency radiation emissions from the radar had not been properly investigated and there was considerable public concern.
On 16 June 2003 the UK Ministry of Defence issued its
The Report did not address the HCDC’s points about the change of use or whether the existing agreements permit the development. It dealt inadequately with the issue of the radar emissions.
The HCDC is not sufficiently familiar with the existing arrangements at Fylingdales to recognise the areas in which the MoD’s Report is inaccurate.
The purpose of the Report was to reassure the public and especially the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA), the local Council responsible for the Fylingdales area. The MoD’s Report asserted that a Planning Application (PA) for the upgrade was not necessary. A PA would necessitate consultation with the Planning Committee and give objectors the opportunity to make further representations and demands for Public Inquiry.
The Response to the MoD’s Report was submitted to NYMNPA in advance of the Meeting on 29 September 2003, at which its decision relating to the requirement for a PA would be determined. Six days in advance of the supposed decision-making meeting, the media published the NYMNPA’s announcement that no PA was required, based on the MoD’s assurance that there would be no alteration to the physical appearance of the site and no increase in RF power from the pyramid. ‘Change of use’ normally requires a PA.
It may be that the Defence Secretary’s decision to defer consideration of the associated X-Band Radar, which would require PA and very likely Public Inquiry, is in response to public objections.
In addition to the NYMNPA the Response was circulated to the MoD Defence Estates’ Organisation. To date no response to the Response has been received. This may be because the authorities are avoiding addressing the assertion that the MoD’s Report contains inaccuracies. Wider circulation of the Response may mean that they cannot duck the issue.
Contents and summary
(The Report is deficient and inaccurate: it is not impartial: MoD is aware of errors of fact: they must be deliberately intended).
(The Report omits any mention of MILSTAR antenna constructed 2001 prior to formal grant of permission: MILSTAR also carries missile guidance system: no reference to communications' link until Defence Secretary's announcement oh 17th December 2002).
(GPS will synchronise 'UEWR with 'the whole network': GPS IIR has 'precision weapon guidance' capability: first announcement of GPS is in the June 2003 Report).
(Atmospheric conditions affect radar: no public information about possible hazard).
(s 44 Defence Committee's Missile Defence Report, January 2003: 'For missile defence purposes the information would also be used to support the capability of the interceptor missiles': comment).
(Crown Defence Land Ownership p.6: legislation governing use of military land p.6: extinguishment of public rights p.7: legislation governing USA's use of Crown Defence Land p.8: role of local authority - extant planning consent for existing radar only - 'change of use' requires new planning application p.9: Defence Secretary's commitment to s62 Environment Act 1995 p.10: upgrade of Station infrastructure related to US Missile Defense p.10: upgraded security measures related to US Missile Defense p.11: terrorist threat related to Missile Defense p.12: public access p.13 : public rights of way p.13: MoD's misuse of Defence Act 1842 to extinguish historic public rights of way p.14: heritage p.15).
(Radio frequency radiation - public's experiences contradict Report's statement p16: Goathland - receives radar sidelobe emissions p18: 'Integrated Estate Management Plan' and 'RAF Fylingdales Conservation Group' p18: call for Public Inquiry p19).
(List of evidence attached to Response).
Evidence p. 21 et seq.
(25 documents in support of statements in Response).
The Land Use and Environment Report is the result of the House of Commons Defence Committee's request for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to '...provide full supporting evidence to the planning authorities, based on further discussions with the US authorities and detailed site surveys...to clarify Fylingdales' role and its environmental impact'. (House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC), Missile Defence: paragraphs 41 and 66: 28th January 2003).
The final Report, dated 16th June 2003, is deficient and inaccurate in significant areas.
The report was commissioned by UK Ministry of Defence Directorate for Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological Policy. Letter from J Durant to A Lee: undated, November 2004). Defence Estates' Organisation (DEO) contracted out the survey to two organisations, TuV Product Service and Building Design Partnership (BDP), TuV specialises in research into radio frequency (RF) emissions and BDP describes itself as an official 'Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method Assessor'. The objective of contracting out the survey is to create the impression that it is independent of the MoD and the Report's conclusions impartial.
It is evident from the content of the Report that both the TuV and BDP organisations have undertaken environmental research previously at RAF Fylingdales. For the purposes of the Report, TuV did not conduct new on-site surveys, but referred to existing results in their files.
Sections of the Report's findings on planning matters and RF emissions are reproduced almost verbatim from ministerial and expert evidence presented to the HCDC and the Committee's conclusions: e.g. Supplementary Memorandum by the Ministry of Defence, 23rd January 2003 (Missile Defence, Minutes of Evidence, pages 59 to 64). Is the reproduction 'sinister', or did TuV and BDP brief the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon and his advisers, Nick Witney and Paul Taylor? It is inconceivable that TuV and BDP would 'lift' sections out of the HCDC's Missile Defence and then feed it back to the HCDC in June as the results of a new survey.
The DEO is in possession of the latest and complete information relating to RAF Fylingdales, but they evidently omitted to update the TuV and BDP investigators. Some of the updated information is publicly accessible from files in the Planning Department at North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA). These files, consisting of plans submitted for RAF Fylingdales by the MoD, do not appear to have been examined by compilers of the Report.
The MoD authorised publication of the Report in June. It cannot have been published without the MoD's knowledge of its contents. The MoD failed to rectify the distortions and omissions, which suggests that they were deliberately intended.
It is unacceptable that evidence, submitted to the HCDC and NYMNPA, dealing with an issue of major international significance, should contain errors of fact.
Ref. Report sections 1.8, 1.9,5.2 (last two lines), 5.6, 5.91, 5.13, 5.14 and 6.6c: figures 6a and 6b.
The most obvious omission in the Report is any reference to the existing MILSTAR antenna and support building, located to the east of the SATCOM radome. (Appendix 1: MILSTAR, Photograph, April 2002).
The Report describes the proposed upgraded communications' link as a requirement to '...Improve the communications' links between the radar and US command centres involved in missile defence.'
The Upgraded Early Warming Radar (UEWR) communications' link will be a replacement for the older US Defense Satellite Communications' System's SATCOM, to the latest MILSTAR system. MILSTAR is the US Military Strategic and Tactical Relay System satellite communications. (Appendix 1: SATCOM and MILSTAR details).
Currently the SATCOM antenna provides the communications' link for the existing Ballistic Missile Early Warming System (BMEWS). Information received by the Solid State Phased Array (SSPAR) pyramid is monitored by the computer systems in the Operations' Building located under the pyramid and relayed to US Space Command HQ in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, via SATCOM.
SATCOM was the upgraded communications' link, which replaced the North Atlantic Relay System (NARS), the communications' link associated with the three 'golf ball' radomes. The Planning Application for SATCOM was submitted to the NYMNPA Planning Department on 8th October 1986, along with the SSPAR pyramid. (Appendix 1: letter from MoD to NYMNPA, 25th September 1986, paragraph 2).
The DEO submitted the plans for the MILSTAR antenna, drafted in 1996, to the NYMNPA Planning Department and the Development sub-Committee Meeting duly approved it. The RAF Fylingdales site plan, revised 14/07/99, does not depict MILSTAR. The MILSTAR antenna was constructed in 2001. (Appendix 1: RAF Fylingdales Site Plan, July 1999; MILSTAR plans).
In addition to its acknowledged Missile Defence role MILSTAR also carries the guidance system for the Trident submarines' nuclear-armed missiles. The final satellite in the MILSTAR constellation was launched in April 2003. (Appendix 1: news item, Space Wire).
There is no reference to an upgraded communications' link in the public discussion document issued by the Secretary of State for Defence on 9th December 2002. The first reference appears in his announcement' that the US Government had formally requested the use of RAF Fylingdales for UEWR as a part of its Missile Defense programme. His statement to the House of Commons on 17th December 2002 is recorded in the HCDC's Missile Defence, Vo11, 39:
The upgrade requested would enable the system to track ballistic missiles more accurately, so that they could be engaged by interception... It is expected that the work would involve installation of new computers and software and an additional communication link.
The Defence Secretary repeated the reference to upgraded communications to the House of Commons on 15th January 2003 and again in evidence to the HCDC later the same day (Missile Defence, Vol 2, 252): '...the request is solely and specifically concerned with the upgrade of the radar and related communications facilities in RAF Fylingdales.'
The Report describes the upgraded communications' link as consisting of replacement of the existing SATCOM antenna and radome cover ('golf ball'). Neither the plan entitled Site Layout Figure 6a, nor the elevated view, Site Layout, 6b (photographed from the top of the pyramid), shows the presence of the MILSTAR antenna. The MoD cannot deny knowledge of its presence; therefore its exclusion from the Report is deliberately intended.
In reply to Mr Cran, the Defence Secretary stated: 'clearly the upgrade cannot begin until we have formally communicated our response to the United States. '
Why was any mention of the MILSTAR antenna excluded from the Report?
Was it because the Defence Secretary would have to admit that components of US Missile Defense were being installed in advance of the formal request and permission?
Ref. Report sections 5.9d, 6.6b and Appendix H (illustrations).
Section 5.9d describes the replacement of '...old timing equipment with a system which will allow the radar to be synchronised with the whole network using time derived from...the installation of two small GPS antennae on the roof of the radar.' (My emphasis).
Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Space Operations website states that the latest upgraded Global Positioning System, GPS lIR, provides inter alia '...precision weapon guidance for the military... ' (Appendix 2: GPS IIR details).
The Report omits to define 'the whole network' in s5.9d, thus the suggestion remains that RAF Fylingdales UEWR will be 'synchronised' with the other UEWRs at Thule, Cape Cod, Beale and Clear, all conveying information to the US Space Command HQ inside Cheyenne Mountain. The impression conveyed is that the UEWR will perform only a passive early warning role as part of a defensive 'shield'.
The 'whole network', however, may be interpreted as RAF Fylingdales' UEWR 'synchronised' not just with the radars, but co-ordinated with, and playing an active role in US Battle Management Command, Control and Communications (BMC3) Operations to 'kill' with interceptor missiles. Raytheon, manufacturer of the UEWR systems, depicts the X-Band Radar (XBR) as the element that would track the interceptor missile to 'kill'. The XBR must be incorporated within 'the whole network' of BMC3 otherwise the 'missile defence functions' are non-existent, but the evidence from the HCDC's statement and the Report maintains that Fylingdales UEWR will perform 'missile defence functions'. (q.v. 'UEWR - The Implications', p5).
Parliament, the HCDC and the public were given no information relating to new GPS installations, the capabilities of the system or the implications. The Fylingdales Request, HCDC Missile Defence, 28th January '03, considers only upgraded radar and a new communications' link without specifying what is involved.
Ref. Report, section 5.4: Appendix C: Appendix H.
Section 5.4 states: 'Associated with this modification is the need to make accurate measurement of the local weather conditions in order to determine very accurately how the atmosphere affects the radar beam.' (My emphasis).
For this purpose a 'Hygrothermometer Aspirator' will be attached to each GPS antenna. This equipment will measure temperature and humidity, not the local weather conditions', which include inter alia wind speed and cloud cover. There is an existing weather station on site.
Evidently the atmospheric conditions have an effect on the radar beam, but the effects are not discussed in the Appendices dealing with the radio frequency (RF) radiation.
A personal experience
During the evening of 30th August 2002, unusual lights were observed in the sky in the area of Sleights village, about 10km north of the SSPAR (Solid State Phased Array Radar) pyramid. The lights appeared as four large, pale yellow, fuzzy, iIIuminated areas rotating in a circle c. 100m diameter, over Widow Howe Moor. The lights were seen by a number of people including my friend, Helen John and myself.
On 31st August I sketched the phenomenon and sent a report to the local newspaper, the Whitby Gazette. (Appendix 3: Sketch of 'strange lights' phenomenon and Whitby Gazette reports).
During September 2002 the paper ran a series of feature articles recounting readers' experiences of the strange lights. They have been observed on other occasions. The paper published my hypothesis that the effect was generated by the circular array on the north face of the SSPAR pyramid.
The 'strange lights' were certainly produced by the radar emitters and, I believe, were related to the atmospheric conditions. The powerful radar beam energised atoms in the air into an excited state. Atoms release the extra energy as light photons. The effect was akin to an artificial Aurora Borealis.
Not only does the effect indicate the very' high energy of the radar beam it is of concern because atoms can release the energy as non-visible radiation such as infra-red, ultraviolet and dangerous X-rays. The lights appeared to touch the ground on the top of the moor. What the effects are and whether they represent any hazard to people in the locality should be public information.
The 'analogue sweep' of the rotating lights does not correspond with the Report's description of the radar operation. Was the beam in 'tracking mode' or was an experiment being conducted on the night of 30th August?
The atmospheric conditions on 31st August were similar: it was cold, clear and dry - a brilliantly starry night - but there was no cloud (created by the radar?) over Widow Howe Moor and there were no unusual lights in the sky.
RAF FYLINGDALES UEWR - THE IMPLICATIONS
Section 44 of the HCDC's Missile Defence, makes it clear that the UEWR is '... not simply...a technical upgrade. It is...a change to the purpose..Hitherto...the information provided has been used only to identify missile launches and to track their paths. For missile defence purposes the information would also be used to support the capability of the interceptor missiles.' (My emphasis).
The Report supplies no information about what this statement signifies. There are only two evasive hints: a brief mention in section 1.7: 'This upgrade will enable the existing radar to track incoming threat objects more accurately and reliably, so that it may perform missile defence functions. ' At section 5.11 the Report states: '...the software that operates the radar would be rewritten to incorporate missile defence functionality...'
Parliament and the public are being kept in ignorance of the nature of the 'missile defence function' role of RAF Fylingdales. Evidence to the HCDC emphasised the surveillance role of the UEWR The reassuring impression conveyed is that the UEWR will continue as an early warning system to protect us against hostile enemies. The Report evades any consideration that UEWR could involve the capability to control the interceptor missiles and to play an active role in USA pre-emptive strikes on other nations.
US Strategic Command's response to a ballistic missile attack on the USA would be to launch retaliatory strikes to remove the launch source of the enemy missiles. The addition of GPS IIR could give RAF Fylingdales an active guidance role in a US ballistic missile attack on other nations.
The suppression of information raises a number of questions:
Has the MoD deliberately suppressed information relating to the role RAF Fylingdales will perform in the tracking and guidance of the interceptors aimed at the incoming missiles?
Will RAF Fylingdales function as part of the control system for Trident nuclear armed missiles counter-attacking the nation(s) launching missiles at the USA?
Has the proposed UEWR at RAF Fylingdales the capability to function as part of a USA pre-emptive strike on other nations?
In light of past history, has any assessment considered the possibility of all error of identification of an incoming object, which would launch a retaliatory strike at a supposed launch site?
Is there any possibility of a nuclear-armed missile being shot down over the UK?
Do the RAF Fylingdales UEWR 'missile defence functions' make any sense without the other essential elements of the US Missile Defense system, such as the Space Based Infra Red System (SBIRS) at Menwith Hill, the X-Band Radar and British-based interceptor missiles?
Are the USA and British Governments implementing a programme of gradual installation of US Missile Defense components in order to allay public concern and defuse opposition?
The Secretary of State assured Parliament an 15th January 2003, that ‘The upgrade of the Fylingdales radar...does not commit us in any way to any deeper involvement in missile defence... 'The British public is entitled to be given an honest answer to the question:
PLANNING AND POLICY CONTEXT
It is inconceivable that the Report does not address the questions of who owns the land at RAF Fylingdales; what legislation regulates use of the land and what laws govern the activities of British and Visiting Forces.
Crown Defence Land Ownership
Whether purchased by the Secretary of State for Defence, or leased from the Duchy of Lancaster, the occupation and control of the land at RAF Fylingdales is regulated by the Military Lands Act 1892, later read to incorporate the RAF and Visiting Forces.
Figure 2 'Land Ownership' depicts the area under 'MOD Ownership' and in two other places the land is described as 'site owned by the MoD' (section 2.1) and' MoD ownership' (section 2.12). Where the Report considers the planning procedure for development, the land is described as 'Crown Land'.
The NYMNPA Chief Planning Officer, Val Dilcock, states:
Section 1 of the Military Lands Act 1892 empowers the Secretary of State to purchase land '...for the military purposes of any portion of Her Majesty's military forces'.
Section 10 of the Military Lands Act 1892 states:
10. Provisions as to land belonging to Crown, &. - (1.) The Commissioners of Woods with the consent of the Treasury, as to land belonging to the Crown, the Chancellor and Council of the Duchy of Lancaster...as to land forming part of the possessions of the Duchy of Lancaster may lease land for military purposes to a Secretary of State.for a term not exceeding twenty-one years, but the lease shall cease to have effect if the land ceases to be used for military purposes.
(2.) Where any land is vested in the Crown and is under the management of any commissioners or departments other than the Commissioners of Woods...the Commissioners or department having the management of the lands may exercise, as regards the land, any powers which under this Act may be exercised as respects land belonging to the Crown by the Commissioners of Woods.
Section 12 states '...any land leased under this Act shall be deemed to have ceased to be used for military purposes where there has not been such use for a period of one year...'
The Act also repealed
When the Secretary of State for Air acquired that portion of Goathland Moor, now known as RAF Fylingdales, for the purpose of establishing a Ballistic Missile Early Warming System (BWEWS) Station, he extinguished all historic rights to use of the land.
Commoners' Rights existed over the 104 acres proposed as the 'Controlled Area' for the radar operations. (This was extended to the north of the current 'Secure Area' and incorporated the site of the three 'golf balls'). The former 'Controlled Area' boundary is shown as a thin continuous line enclosing land including and to the north of the current Secure Area. (Figure 2, Land Ownership).
In May 1961 the Rights of Common were acquired by compulsory purchase and compensation of £52.8.1, for 63 Rights of Common was paid to the 47 Commoners then in possession of the Rights. Rights of Common however are vested in property not person. When the property is transferred the Rights of Common are inherited with the property. Those enjoying Rights of Common do not have the power to dispose of them. The Commoners were opposed to the extinguishment of their Common Rights, but they were informed that they had no option. (Appendix 5: letter from Jim Muir, exCommoner, to Les Pope).
Even if it can be proved that the Rights of Common were lawfully extinguished, it would appear that the Sewage Works, which discharges into Eller Beck at the bridge on the A 169, and the Access Road from the A 169 to the Secure Area gates, are outside the 'Controlled Area' and infringe the Rights of Common. They thus appear to contravene the Military Lands Act 1892.
There would appear to be no lawful right of vehicular access to RAF Fylingdales along a metalled Access Road interfering with grazing rights. Bridleways (q.v. Public Rights of Way) are accessible only on foot, horseback or bicycle.
The Military Lands Act 1892, Section 14. (1.) states (paragraph 2): '...no byelaws promulgated under this section shall authorise the Secretary of State' to take away or prejudicially affect any right of common.' This stipulation reinforces the claim that the Secretary of State for Air was not empowered to infringe the historic Rights of Common.
The Rights of Common cannot have been extinguished on the portion of land, part of the SATCOM/MILSTAR Compound, held until early 2003 by the Forestry Commission and unlawfully incorporated into the Secure Area? (q.v. Public Rights of Way).
The Act empowers the Secretary of State to enact byelaws (s14) to prohibit public access to the land (q.v. Public Rights of Way).
The Secretary of State also extinguished the Right of public access along the prehistoric track ways (q.v. Public Rights of Way).
The 'MoD Ownership' boundary shown in the Report at Figure 2, as a dashed and dotted line, does not conform to the MoD boundary as depicted on the RAF Fylingdales Byelaws' Map. The Station boundary on the Byelaws' Map embraces a considerably larger area to the east, bordered by Worm Syke Rigg to the south and the Scarborough District Council boundary to the east. (Appendix 6: amended Figure 2).
USA's Use of Crown Defence land
Presumably the USA Government is apprised that the terms of the Military Lands Act 1892 govern the military occupation and use of Crown Defence Land and that land leased from the Duchy of Lancaster is subject to the approval of her Majesty the Queen's Duchy Commissioners.
Whether Crown Defence Lands are purchased or leased, they are acquired for 'the military purposes of...Her Majesty's military forces' (my emphasis). The land may not be allocated to the military forces of a foreign power except under the terms of the legislation defining the occupation and use of UK Crown Defence Lands by Visiting Forces, which are embodied in the following Acts of Parliament:
Under the terms of the agreement, the USA's military forces in Britain are here only for the purpose of '...our common defence... '
In order to legitimise the USA's occupation of, and activities on, Crown Defence Land, the US Bases ostensibly must be under the command of 'her Majesty's military forces' and function for '...our common defence...' Thus a deception is practised that the US Bases are under the command of the RAF. The 'cover' also serves to allay public disquiet about the occupation of UK Defence Land by the military forces of a foreign power, albeit 'friendly'.
Although all the equipment is purchased, installed and used for the USA's military purposes, the 'cover' that the Bases are 'RAF' is also maintained by the procedure of the planning process. The USA's development plans are submitted to the local authority by the UK DEO ostensibly' on behalf of the RAF.
In order to comply with the Military Lands Act 1892 the installations on the 'RAF' Stations become the property of the UK. Thus if the USA decides to quit any of its Bases, e.g. 'RAF' Greenham Common, the UK bears the entire responsibility for the demolition and the clean-up costs.
No legislation permits the USA to establish and operate any military systems exclusively in its own interests on lands allocated for the defence of the UK. The UEWR in 'missile defence mode', has no relevance to British defence purposes and would contravene the Military Lands Act 1892 and the later legislation. The Secretary of State does not have the authority to allow use of RAF Fylingdales for anything other than a joint RAF/US Space Command early warming radar in accordance with the terms of the legislation for '...our common defence'.
It cannot be lawful to use the UEWR in 'missile defence mode', which is for the exclusive military purposes of the USA. The fact that RAF personnel will continue to operate RAF Fylingdales (as attested by the Secretary of State to the HCDC and reiterated by Adam Ingram on 30th January 2003) does not satisfy the Law, unless the 'missile defence function' is also a function for UK defence purposes. (Authors' note: This has now been leaked, see Appendix 7: Letter from Adam Ingram MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, to Alice Mahon MP, 30th January 2003).
Why is it necessary to keep secret the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in June 2003?
Role of the Local Authority
Ref. Report sections 3.36 and 3.37
It is untrue to assert that the 'extant planning permission for the operation of the radar at Fylingdales and its associated support services' (Report, 53.36) can lawfully apply to the proposed UEWR.
The planning consent granted by NYMNPA for the original 1960's, and the upgraded 1990's, RAF Fylingdales' BMEWS was consent only for a radar system. If the new UEWR proposals are to incorporate 'missile defence functions', which include the capacity to track and guide interceptor missiles, plus a function as part of the control system for a missile counter-attack, then this comprises a 'change of use' for which planning clearance was not granted. The stated 'extant planning permission' does not exist. The new proposals are equivalent to the change of use of any building, such as the addition of an office to an existing shop. Even if the change in the appearance is 'de minimis'; the 'change of use' requires planning consent. The conclusion stated in the Report s 3.44 that '...the upgraded proposal does not represent a "development" as defined in the Town and Country Planning Acts' would apply only to an upgraded radar, not to a radar with added 'missile defence functions'.
The NYMNPA granted planning consent for the SSPAR pyramid and SATCOM to be constructed in the National Park only because of the necessity to comply with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
Despite the MoD's assertion that: 'It would be both costly
and impractical to reprovision facilities...at an alternative site,
particularly if this required the purchase of additional land,'
(Appendix 1) the Chief Planning Officer, D C Statham, in his
assessment, dated 8th October 1986, addressed to the NYMNPA
Planning Committee stated:
The statement in the Report 53.37 line 5: 'there are overwhelming reasons of national interest not to relocate the facility,' quotes an MoD letter dated 13th August 1987. The letter is an argument in support of the Planning Application, not the decision of the NYMNPA's Chief Planning Officer, D C Statham, nor that of the Development sub-Committee. I have been unable to find this letter in the NYMNP A Planning Files and should be interested to discover if the Planning Department was apprised of what the 'overwhelming reasons of national interest' consisted.
The assertion that there were 'environmental reasons for not relocating the radar is an invention. No 'environmental reasons' were expressed in 1986 and other suitable geographical sites were considered. (Appendix 1: letter from MoD to NYMNPA, 25th September 1986, paragraphs 4 and 5).
There no longer exists any 'perceived threat' of a missile attack on Britain from the former Soviet Union, whether real or imaginary. The 'Cold War' justification for the establishment of the Ballistic Missile Early Warming (BMEWS) 'golf balls' and upgraded SSPAR, has disappeared. The USA's unilateral abrogation of the ABM Treaty on 13th June 2002 has removed the only justification for the location of the SSPAR pyramid in the North York Moors National Park.
The Defence Secretary has undertaken to give consideration to the provisions of Section 62 of the 1995 Environment Act, relating to National Park purposes, although there is no statutory requirement to do so on Crown Defence Land. (Report s3.23 and s3.24).
Upgrade of Station Infrastructure
Ref. Report, section 1.5:
'Service Life Extension Programme is currently underway at the facility that replaces older equipment with newer, more reliable equipment...'
The US Government's decision to initiate their Missile Defense programme, and the announcement on December 13th 2001, of their intention to abrogate the ABM Treaty, which prevented its implementation, pre-supposes that permission to use RAF Fylingdales and RAF Menwith HiII already had been granted secretly. The two Bases are essential 'forward surveillance' components of the Missile Defense programme.
Operations installations, required for the US Missile Defense programme, were developed at both Bases prior to the formal grant of permission on 5th February 2003. In 1996 the plans were drafted for MILSTAR at RAF Fylingdales and on 19th June 1997, plans for the Space Based Infra-red System at RAF Menwith HiII were submitted to the Harrogate Borough Council's Planning Department.
In parallel with Operations' installations, an infrastructure development programme at both Bases was also being implemented, prior to any publicly announced permission for US Missile Defense. The plans are submitted to the local authorities as a series of small instalments. Prolonging the planning procedure in this way allays public concerns and defuses protests and demands for Environmental Impact Assessment and a Public Inquiry.
Incorporated in the 'Service Life Extension Programme' at RAF Fylingdales is the upgrade of every building on the Station. This will probably not require submission of plans to the NYMNPA Planning Department, except where expansion or new building work is proposed. The upgrade involves inter alia replacing the flat roofs with pitched ones, with the consequence that the built-up area surrounding the SSPAR pyramid will be more prominent in the landscape. (Information from discussion with Mrs V A Dilcock, Chief Planning Officer, NYMNPA, October 02).
The 'Service Life Extension Programme' in no way can be described as 'routine repairs and maintenance' (Report s1.13).
The 'Service Life Extension Programme' at RAF Fylingdales envisages considerable expenditure. At RAF Menwith Hill the US Government pays for all infrastructure developments. Has the cost at RAF Fylingdales been incorporated into the UK's Defence Budget? If so, how much?
Security, public access and terrorism
Ref. Report, section 6.7a.
The HCDC concluded in Missile Defence on 28th January 2003:
Any security installations requiring submission of Notice of Proposed Development for consideration by the local authorities, under the terms of the Department of the Environment Circular 18/84 (Crown Land and Crown Development), were justified by the MoD on grounds that they were necessary to counter a perceived terrorist threat.
The Greenpeace 'anti-Star Wars' incursion at RAF Menwith HiII on 3rd and 4th July 2001, exposed the vulnerability of the Bases.
None of the security measures implemented recently could counter an attack similar to the 9/11 suicide flights. Organisations such as the Irish Republican Army have demonstrated many obvious and unsophisticated ways in which RAF Fylingdales and RAF Menwith Hill could be sabotaged. The Bases also are dependent on delivery of extenal services; e.g. water supply and diesel for generating the electricity, the lack of which could stop the operations. The Bases are dependent on a local workforce to service the day-to-day running and disposal services such as sewage and rubbish.
Reassurances were given by the Defence Secretary to the HCDC, and reiterated in the Report at 6.7 a: 'The upgrade is not assessed as likely to raise the profile of the site as a target for terrorists. 'The media's coverage of the preliminaries to the formal US Government's request, such as the abrogation of the ABM Treaty, has already 'raised the profile' - and as a consequence of Missile Defense. RAF Fylingdales is seen as crucial to the USA's future projected war-fighting plans. It is also the most vulnerable part of the programme so has become an even more obvious target. The Defence Secretary's reassurances are belied by the necessity for anti-terrorist security measures coinciding with identification of the Bases as US Missile Defense components.
It is significant that at none of the other military Bases in the North of England were similar upgraded security measures implemented - only those Bases long recognised as the Bases to be used for US Missile Defense.
The US Government pays for the MoD Police and security measures at RAF Menwith HiII, apart from policing of demonstrations. (Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Jeremy Hanley, in reply to the late Bob Cryer MP: 25th March 1994: House of Commons' Hansard).
The Home Office Police, deployed on anti-terrorist duties at the two Bases are being funded by the British taxpayer. In November 2001, the Home Secretary visited the North Yorkshire Police HQ and granted an immediate extra £1 M to defray the additional costs. (Widely reported on TV and in the press).
The security cameras covertly monitoring the countryside surrounding the Bases do so in direct contravention of the Human Rights Act 1998. Notices warning CCTV Cameras are in Operation at this Establishment are displayed as a result of complaints. In order to read the notices it is necessary to be within about five metres of the perimeter.
A personal experience
In March 2003, Vron Taylor and myself were on a public footpath adjacent to RAF Fylingdales. The MoD Police enforced section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and searched our possessions. We were prohibited from carrying a camera, under the terms of section 58. The photograph of SATCOM and MILSTAR (Appendix 1: photo) was taken in April 2002; it is no longer legally possible to photograph such installations from the public highway.
Ref. Report s2.17a, b and c: s 6.7a: s6.23: Figures 2, 4b, 5 and 6a.
Section 6a of the Report states: 'Before, during and after the upgrade...all areas and routes that are open to the public will remain unaffected.'
The heather moors of the North York Moors National Park are nearly all Open Access countryside as defined in Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000.
RAF Fylingdales' heather moors are an exception. Under the terms of Schedule 1.13 of the CROW Act 2000 there is no public right of access to land governed by byelaws enacted under section 14 of the Military Lands Act 1892. Even if an area of the land is no longer under the control of the MoD (q. v. Crown Defence Land Ownership) it remains a criminal offence to set foot on it until the Secretary of State revokes the byelaws.
The byelaws were enacted by former Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Heseltine, in 1987, Statutory Instrument 1069, in order to prohibit trespass onto the station by making it a summary offence. The byelaws remain on the Statute Book, but are not currently in force at RAF Fylingdales. The MoD Police cannot use the legislation to arrest any person discovered on the land, because the byelaws are substantively defective. The MoD Police and the Crown Proseqution Service are aware that any defendant in the courts will challenge the validity of the byelaws with a reasonable chance of success.
The 1987 byelaws cannot prohibit access to the recently acquired Forestry Commission land on the south-east unless they are amended by Order in Council. This land is thus Open Access land as defined in Schedule 1of the CROW Act 2000.
Public Rights of Way
Although the Military Lands Byelaws can prohibit public access to the land, they also protect the Public Rights of Way (PROW). S16 of the Military Lands Act states: 'A byelaw under this Act shall not interfere with any highway...' S8 of the RAF Fylingdales Byelaws states: 'Nothing in these byelaws shall affect the lawful exercise by any person of a public right of way'.
Ref. 2.17a: Robin Hoods Bay Road: 'Figure 4b Public Access': amended Figure 2 (Appendix 6)
The words 'Robin Hood's Bay Road', in the top right hand corner of Figure 4, are partially obscured by the legend 'Route of Like (sic) Wake Walk'. This prehistoric trackway, also known as Saltergate, has a legendary history as a 'corpse road' along which the dead were carried to the traditional burial sites on the hilltops. There are over 10,000 barrows and tumuli on the North York Moors.
The Robin Hood's Bay Road on Figure 4b is shown as a dashed line, following a route roughly south-west to Lilla Cross, the most ancient of the Moorland Guide Crosses, c. 1300 years old. Instead of continuing along the original route, in a south-westerly direction, across the land depicted as MoD land on the Byelaws map, a line of faint dots indicates the closed trackway on Figure 4b and the Ordnance Survey Map, Explorer OL27. On Figures 2 and 4a a continuous line represents the closed section of the Robin Hood's Bay Road. From Lilla Cross it was diverted due south to Worm Syke Rigg.
The Report describes only one bridleway (524206) whereas there are two. The ancient route forked at Wood Slack (wording partially obscured by the 'RAF Fylingdales' box). One track, Bridleway 524206, headed west across Snod Hill to meet the A 169 highway at White Way Heads. The cul-de-sac remainder of Bridleway 524206 is shown as the dashed line from the black spot representing RAF Fylingdales to the A169. The other track, Bridleway 500200, continues from Wood Slack in a southerly direction via Malo Cross to the notorious Saltergate Inn, associated with more recent history of the trackway, when it is said to have been the C 18th smugglers' road from the coast.
A personal experience
On 8th October 2002, the MoD Police prevented me from exercising my right to walk the PROW, Bridleway 524206. They informed me that the PROW had been closed on 25th September by the Under Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Lewis Moonie, under the terms of s16 of the Defence Act 1842.
On 9th October 2002, I submitted a complaint to Mr C J Duke, Senior Adviser, DEO (North). Alice Mahon MP took up my complaint with Lewis Moonie. There followed correspondence with the Minister and the NYMNPA, which has not yet satisfactorily remedied my complaint. (Appendix 8: see all relevant correspondence, highlighted sections).
The security fences, including the electrified fence, surrounding the 'Secure Area' at RAF Fylingdales were unlawfully constructed across the two Bridleways. The fences obstructed the PROW contrary to the Common Law Right of Passage along the Queen's Highway. Not only was Bridleway 500200 unlawfully obstructed, but also the security fences adjacent to the SATCOM/MILSTAR Compound were constructed outside the boundary of RAF Fylingdales on land held by the Forestry Commission. (Appendix 6: amended Figure 2).
Lewis Moonie 'remedied' the MoD's unlawful offence, not by ordering removal of the offending obstructions, but by closure of the part of Bridleway 524206; closure and diversion of Bridleway 500200 and transfer of land from the Forestry Commission to RAF Fylingdales.
Lewis Moonie maintained that the Defence Act 1842 authorised him to close and divert PROW on Crown Defence Lands without the necessity of advertising advance notice and public consultation, such as is required under s118 and s119 of the Highways Act 1980, now incorporated into the CROW Act 2000.
The Defence Act 1842 is the Act of Parliament, which establishes
Her Majesty the Queen's Ordnance Survey Department (formerly part
of the War Office). The purpose of the Act is
Much of the original Defence Act 1842 has been repealed. What remains is the procedure for acquiring land for military purposes. The complete s16 states:
...it shall be lawful for the principal officers of her Majesty's ordnance for the time being to enter on, survey, and mark out, or to cause to be surveyed and marked out, any lands, buildings, or other hereditaments or easements wanted for the service of the ordnance department, or for the defence of the realm, or to stop up or divert any public or private footpaths or bridle-roads, and to treat and agree with the owner or owners of such lands, buildings, hereditaments, or easements, or with any person or persons interested therein, either for the absolute purchase thereof, or for the possession and use thereof during such time as the exigence of the public service shall require.
The Defence Act 1842 is not concerned in any way with the regulation of established Crown Defence Land. It is concerned only with the procedure to be adopted for acquiring land NOT held by the MoD. It cannot empower the Secretary of State for Defence to close and divert PROW on Crown Defence Land. It is contrary to the Interpretation Act 1978 to extract 'to stop up or divert any public or private footpaths and bridle-roads' from the context of the meaning of the Act. It is unlawful for the Under Secretary of State to use an Act of Parliament for a purpose for which it was not intended.
Sections 16 and 17 of the Defence Act 1842 have been used by the Secretary of State for Defence to authorise closure and diversion of PROW at a number of other Bases, inter alia RAF Menwith HiII and RAF Lakenheath.
On 2nd April 2003 I served the NYMNPA notice under the terms of 563(1) of the CROW Act 2000 to remove the obstructions across Bridleways 500200 and 524206.
On 20th May the authority responded that '...the Ministry has acted within its powers to stop up rights of way under Section 16 of the Defence Act 1842, so unless the specific actions taken by the Ministry of Defence in this case were to be successfully challenged, the bridleways are no longer obstructed by the high security fence. Therefore there is no action that the Authority can or should take under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 Section 63(1).
The Highways Authority has no alternative but to remove the unlawful obstructions. There are no exceptions in the CROW Act 2000. No circumstances exist in which they could fail to act. Currently the MoD and the NYMNPA are contravening the CROW Act 2000.
The Report publishes assurance at s6.7: 'Before, during and after the upgrade, all areas and routes that are open to the public will remain unaffected' and s6.23b: 'Areas and routes where public access is permitted will not be altered or restricted as a result of the upgrade. ' This means that the unlawful obstruction across both bridleways, i. e. the sections of the security fences causing the offence, should be realigned to resolve my complaint and comply with the Law to allow the public to enjoy the right of passage along the Lawful prehistoric PROW.
That the MoD may have been in breach of the Law for over 40 years will not cause them undue concern. The MoD acts as if it is above the Law.
Ref. Report s. 6.21 a, b and c
An Archaeological Survey of the site was undertaken in 2002, in conjunction with retrospective Planning Application (q.v. 'RAF Fylingdales Integrated Management Plan and Fylingdales Conservation Group') which the Report fails to consider. (Appendix 9: page 4 of 7 extracted from '3.0 Previous Archaeological Work at RAF Fylingdales': 'RAF Fylingdales: Archaeological implications of new perimeter road, fence and drainage').
The prehistoric trackways, particularly the Robin Hood's Bay Road across Snod HiII and the legendary ancient use of 'corpse roads', are referred to in the section on PROW.
That Snod HiII, occupied by RAF Fylingdales, may have been a prehistoric funerary area is attested by Ulla Roder's discovery of a cup-and-ring carved rock, such as are associated with other ancient burial sites. I found two flint microliths on a molehill.
Item 3.4 in the 2002 survey (Appendix 9) is further evidence of the dependence of the site on external services. As a gas supply is not available to households in the area, the assumption is that the excavation was carried out to install a secret fibre-optic cable. An October 2004 planning application for removal of the bulk (heavy oil) storage tanks revealed that the electricity generators are now fuelled by gas. Fibre-optic cable(s) leave by a different route to the north-east.
Radio Frequency Radiation
Ref. Report Appendices C, D, E and F.
The experiences of RAF Fylingdales Station personnel and people living in the locality contradicts the assurances given in the Report.
RAF Fylingdales issues an 'Information and Safety Booklet for Visitors' to the Station, which advises precautions to be taken to counter the radio frequency (RF) radiation hazard. These include the following precautions relating to electromagnetic susceptibility and personnel safety:
The precaution that 'There is a risk from RF Radiation only when working anywhere on site above 3 metres', does not appear to allay the concerns of some of the personnel employed on and visiting the site. (Appendix 10: Royal Air Force Fylingdales Information and Safety Booklet).
The visitors' booklet is an abridged version of a larger and more detailed pamphlet entitled 'Health and Safety Measures', which is classified as 'Restricted Access'.
The RAF Fylingdales authorities do not deny that the RF radiation affects electromagnetically compatible instruments on Station and in the surrounding area. People's experiences have been reported in the local press. The latest report in the Whitby Gazette, 31st October 2002, describes how 'BIKERS have been wrapping tin foil around their machines in a bid to prevent their alarms being set off as they ride past RAF Fylingdales... Wing Commander Chris Knapman ...accepts that car alarms can occasionally be set off by the radar. ' (Appendix 11: news item, Whitby Gazette 31st October 2002).
The bikers' attempts to encase their machines in a 'Faraday's Cage' is reflected in the precautions taken inside RAF Fylingdales. All the buildings in the area of the SSPAR pyramid are made of steel - including the 'Sangars' (sentry boxes). The steel-clad Operations' Building constructed underneath the SSPAR pyramid is located in the safest place on Station to protect the electronically sensitive computers from interference from RF emissions. The electronic equipment in Ops is not only shielded by being encased in a 'Faradays cage' building, it is located behind the emitting faces of the radar. Other buildings on Station are 'wallpapered' in metal foil; others are encased in structures with the appearance of aluminium greenhouses covered in chicken wire. The proposed GPS antennas will have to be mounted on top of the SSPAR pyramid to avoid RF interference.
The MoD's letter to NYMNPA on 25th September 1986, refers at paragraph 3 to '...associated sub-structures, including the tunnel.... (Appendix 1) These were excavated for inter alia, personnel safety.
A personal experience of electromagnetic susceptibility
For seven months, from May to the end of November 2002, the 'Star Peace Camp' was located at Ellerbeck Bridge on the north-west side of the radar pyramid.
The camp served as a focus for the attentions of the media during the period of speculation conceming the implications of the USA's abrogation of the ABM Treaty and the proposed use of RAF Fylingdales for US Missile Defense. TV reporters conducted a number of interviews with camp residents at different times. The interviews were conducted with the SSPAR pyramid in the background.
I was at the camp on 4th July 2002 (US Independence Day). In order that the BBC could record Missile Defense preparations underway before the grant of permission - signified by the MILSTAR antenna - Ulla Roder was interviewed on the east side of the 'Secure Area', near to 'Iocation J'. A regular pulse of energy affected the TV recording camera so that the picture dimmed at c.0.5s intervals.
I do not know if the interview was broadcast, but the film should be in the BBC archives.
A personal experience of RAF Fylingdales' safety precautions
On 23rd August 2003, in an advertised event, a group of ramblers walked the Bridleway 524206. The route leads from the A169 highway, uphill in a south-easterly direction, to the top of Snod HiII, adjacent to the SSPAR pyramid. At a distance of c.10 m outside the security fence, across the PROW there is a wooden-fenced enclosure, which marks the end of the publicly accessible section (the continuation was purportedly closed by Lewis Moonie on 25th September 2002, under the Defence Act 1842. (q.v. Public Rights of Way).
When the radar is in operation, the circular radar array panels on the faces of the pyramid generate so much heat that there is visible heat shimmer caused by the rising convection currents. As the ramblers arrived at the top of Snod HiII, I noted that the circular arrays were not shimmering and I assumed that the radar was not operating.
The event was advertised as finishing at 4 p.m. My friend Betty and I were the last to leave at about 4.30 p.m. As we left, I turned, and noted that the faces of the pyramid were shimmering.
I can only assume that the radar was switched off to coincide with the timing 'of the event and that it was done so in order to protect the ramblers using the PROW. It would appear that Britain was unprotected by its radar defences during the afternoon of 23rd August 2002. This raises the question of how essential is the RAF Fylingdales radar to UK national security?
How frequently is the radar switched off?
From the top of Snod HiII, with one's back to the pyramid, the view to the west, scanning from north to south as far as the eye can see, is a vista of rolling moors, a panoramic landscape of stunning beauty. There are few signs of human habitation apart from the roofs of the village of Goathland viewed down the valley of the Eller Beck, which runs in a north-north-westerly direction from Snod HiII. Goathland is in direct line of sight from the pyramid and is not shielded from the radar sidelobe emissions by surrounding hills. Significantly, the Railway Station, where the RF readings were taken (at location C) is not visible because it is in the lowest part of the valley, whereas the east of the village is elevated on the slopes."
Wing Commander Chris Knapman's assurance '...he could not see how Goathland, which is in a dip, could be affected' (Appendix 11) is an untenable statement. Goathland is directly in the path of the radar sidelobe emissions.
Any location in the North York Moors from which the SSPAR pyramid is visible is in 'line of sight' of the radar sidelobe emissions.
A statement that the RF power in the sidelobes surrounding the main, sIightly-convergent beam obeys the Inverse Square Law is untenable.
MoDís explanation of the shimmering SSPAR is that the venting of hot air from the heat exchangers causes it. MoD denies that radar is switched off if the shimmering is not evident. Letter from J Durant (MoD Directorate for Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological Policy) to A Lee, 10 October 2004].
'Integrated Estate Management Plan' and 'RAF Fylingdales Conservation Group'
At the end of January 2002, following my complaint to the MoD and NYMNPA that unauthorised development, inter alia of an internal perimeter patrol road, was in progress at RAF Fylingdales. The Council for National Parks (CNP) took up the matter; consulted with Dr Lewis Moonie; issued a condemnatory press statement, which received prominent media coverage and the Secretary of State was questioned in the House of Commons.
The CNP and the NYMNPA called for, and were given, assurances that the MoD would produce an 'Integrated Estate Management Plan' and 'resurrect the RAF Fylingdales Conservation Group to act as a forum to discuss, advise and assist with conservation matters'. The MoD prepared an Environmental lmpact Assessment and an Archaeological Survey in line with the provisions of DOE Circular 12/96 in conjunction with their retrospective Planning Application to the NYMNPA Planning Department. (Appendix 12: final page, MoD's EIA, 18th March 2002: letter from CNP to NYMNPA, 2nd April 2002: letter from NYMNPA to MoD, 15th May 2002).
Local interest groups were assured orally that they would have representation on the projected RAF Fylingdales Conservation Group, in line with the provisions of the Aarhus Convention on public participation in decision-making matters.
The projected time period for implementation of the proposed Integrated Estate Management Plan and 'resurrection of the RAF Fylingdales Conservation Group' has now expired. Has there been any progress or was this merely a paper statement to mitigate the MoD's breach of planning procedure?
A recent change in European Union policy was introduced in December 2002, in a Directive issued to comply with Article 6.1 of the Aarhus Convention (on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, which came into force on 30th October 2002). The previous blanket exemption of Crown Defence Lands from compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive has been removed. The only justification for exemption from EIA is if it can be proved to have 'adverse effect' on national defence purposes.
In light of changes in legislation since the last upgrade, such as the Secretary of State's commitment to recognition of the Environment Act 1995, and the new EU Directive, the proposed change of use to an UEWR with 'missile defence functions' should be subjected to the scrutiny of an impartial Public Inquiry.
1 © Anne Lee,
Anne Lee. For over 40 years Anne has participated, as a left-wing peace activist, in various progressive struggles. In addition to campaigning for nuclear disarmament, she has been involved in support of the miners during the 1984/5 strike, the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and the anti-Poll Tax Campaign. Currently she is committed mainly to the women-only non-violent direct action [NVDA] campaign to close Menwith Hill, but also supports other campaigns with similar objectives. As a result of her actions she has served 4 short prison sentences. Until 1999, when the peace camp was evicted and some of the women were placed under High Court Injunction not to camp near the base, she had lived for nearly 5 years outside Menwith Hill, at the WoMenwith Hill Women's Peace Camp. The caravans have gone, but 'those bloody women' continue their opposition.