Monday, January 23, 2006

Did Shoeburyness Help Kill the Whale?

Navy sonar and military explosions have been blamed for disorientating the bottlenose whale that died on Saturday after two days in the Thames.

“Did the Qinetiq operated ranges at Shoeburyness contribute to the death of the Thames whale?”

That is the question being posed by North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale.

For years the MP`s constituents living along the North Kent coast and most particularly in Herne Bay have complained of the damage to buildings, distress to animals and environmental intrusion caused by the shockwaves arising from the demolition of high explosives at the MoD ranges operated by QinetiQ at Shoeburyness and on Foulness Island in Essex.

"During the past week the Kent coastline has been rocked by a vicious series of explosions" says the MP "and this has led to a flood of complaints resulting in my own representations, once again, to the contractors and to the Minister’s private office.”

“We understand that one or more whales were seen off Southend on Tuesday, when the explosions shaking the Thames estuary were particularly bad. It is not unreasonable to consider that animals whose navigation systems are dependent upon highly sensitive sonar may have become disorientated by the explosions and I hope that this factor will be taken into account during any post mortem on the poor animal that has died."

The MP, who is President of the Conservative Animal Welfare Group, adds:

"We understand the necessity to test munitions and to train engineers in the destruction of explosives but we have long held that this location, in the heart of a densely populated area, is now unsuitable and that the work should be transferred to a more remote location. The harm to the daily lives of people and their domestic animals and property is a matter of record but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that we have had to recognise the potential damage to wildlife and to endangered species such as these marine mammals. This is not "bunny hugging hysteria". It is a matter that does need to be treated with serious attention.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As sad as the death of a young bottlenose whale is, I think it is stretching the issue of Shoeburyness and its bangs a little far to bring it into the picture. We have had explosive shock waves across the Estuary for over 50 years and this is the first whale since 1913 to end up in London. Illness and effects of pollution in the North Sea are a more likely cause!