UK confirms Olympic missile defence

Jul 04, 2012, 07:31 IST | Agencies

Surface-to-air systems will be deployed at six sites around London venues with approval of the IOC despite a legal challenge from some residents

Britain’s defense secretary has confirmed the six sites that will host surface-to-air missiles as part of security measures to protect the Summer Games.

The missiles — including rapier and high-velocity systems — will be in place from mid-July, the MoD confirmed.

Plans also include the use of helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, which will be moored in the River Thames.

RAF Typhoon jets will be stationed at RAF Northolt, and Puma helicopters at a Territorial Army centre in Ilford.

Not in our backyard: Residents of the Lexington Building in east London protest against the government’s decision to station surface-to-air missiles on the roof of their flats near the London Olympic Park. pic/afp

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the ground-based air defence systems were “just one part of a comprehensive, multi-layered air security plan” which would provide “both reassurance and a powerful deterrent”.

They would go ahead despite objections from a”small number of activists,” he said.

“We have undertaken a wide programme of engagement with the communities affected, involving relevant local authorities, landowners, MPs, council leaders, and community meetings. These have shown that, while people understandably have questions and concerns which we have sought to answer, broadly speaking communities are supportive of our work.”

Some 100 sites were considered as locations for ground missiles, before this was narrowed down to the six final sites which were deemed to offer
the best possible protection to the Olympic Park and surrounding area against any air threat. The plans have sparked a campaign by residents, who say 1,000 people have signed a petition in protest.

Residents of Fred Wigg Tower have also launched legal proceedings against the missiles’ siting.

Solicitors instructed by the residents’ association said their challenge is set to reach the High Court on July 9.

Responding to the MoD’s confirmation of the plans Chris Nineham from Bow, who is part of the Stop the Olympic Missiles campaign said, “This is a decision that flies in the face of good sense and also the opinions and feelings of the people who live in the area. Sitting missiles on housing estates makes people feel a lot less secure.”

Olympic medals locked in Tower of London
The prized Olympic and Paralympic medals are now under lock and key at the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are kept under armed guard. The next time the gold, silver and bronze prizes will be seen in public is when they are draped around the necks of the winning athletes at the London 2012. 

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