News Shorts & Other Busyness
Squall 7, Summer 1994, pg. 9.
“Care and conservation of the natural environment and our national heritage is the responsibility of us all, whatever our businesses may be. The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our environment and we must, by the care and thoughtfulness of our actions, help to improve and protect it.” So says a nature video called “Green Forces” available at the moment from your nearest video store. On the front cover of “Green Forces” are photographs of a cute little fox and some rolling green meadows. And the authors of the video? The Ministry of Defence!
“The Ministry of Defence and the services maintain active programmes to both sustain and conserve the environment and are proud of what is being achieved,” it continues. “This video covers some of the challenges facing Britain’s Defence Forces and explains how they are being tackled.”
In fact, environmental groups and national countryside preservation organisations such as English Nature, are well aware of how the environment is “being tackled” by the MoD - with 45 ton AS90 guns.
The MoD, which owns 20 per cent of Northumberland National Park, is planning to bring artillery back from Germany where there is a general withdrawal of allied troops stationed there since the war. The moors, billed by the Council for the Protection of Rural England as one of the “most tranquil” places in the country, is to become a large firing range, bombarded by the guns brought back from Germany. There are also plans to build large accommodation units for the infantry and 30 miles of service roads in a development plan described by the national parks officer, Graham Taylor, as “the largest development proposed for any national park in recent time” and “the greatest threat to the park in 10 years”.
English Heritage (owners themselves of the tarmac tourist car park at Stonehenge) are at present undertaking checks on Salisbury Plain, another area of prime archaeological and environmental importance, severely scarred by bombardments and military exercises. An estimated one third of the 1,800 archaeological sites in the area have been damaged by tanks and AR90 shells.
“Further environmental information is available from the Assistant Chief of Public Relations at the MoD,” concludes the video. We ought to know better of course than to believe a public relations consultant whose sole job is to keep the face looking clean even if everything else is dirty.