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MoD apologises after terrorising nuclear base village with series of bomb blasts

The Ministry of Defence has apologised for terrifying people living near the UK's nuclear bomb store at Coulport after setting off a series of explosions last week.

Coulport lies close to the Faslane naval basePhotograph: Colin Mearns
Coulport lies close to the Faslane naval basePhotograph: Colin Mearns

People living in Ardentinny, a village on the opposite shore of Loch Long a mile from Coulport, say they have been "traumatised" by the detonation of 23 blasts over five days, which made it feel like they were living in a "war zone". They are furious the MoD failed to warn them.

The MoD says the blasts were part of a staff training exercise, but has refused to elaborate. It told residents there was "nothing to worry about".

The Argyll and Bute MSP, Mike Russell yesterday wrote to the UK Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, after being contacted by residents. "Coulport has been a bad neighbour and it needs to apologise and mend its ways," he said. "Many residents were very worried by the blasts which were at times intense enough to shake houses. The fact that no warning was given and that there has been no adequate explanation makes the situation even worse."

The blasts started on Monday. On Wednesday, after being asked, the MoD said they were finished for the week but then let off 11 explosions on Thursday and Friday.

"We have been told that further exercises may take place next Tuesday or Wednesday. However, we have no way of knowing if this is correct," said David McDowall from the community website Ardentinny.org.

Resident Bill Bincham phoned the police after pictures fell off his wall as he thought there had been an accident. He runs livery stables in Glenfinart. On Thursday, one of his clients was pinned against a wall by five horses panicked by a blast.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "This exercise was part of training for staff at RNAD Coulport. I'm afraid I can't say any more than that." She said that it was "not related in any way" to Exercise Joint Warrior, a huge Nato exercise taking place around Scotland.

The spokeswoman added: "We apologise for any distress caused to the local community by the loud noises. We will ensure advance warning is given for any future training."

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