Supplementary memorandum submitted by
WoMenwith Hill Peace Group (20 January 2003)
Without seeking permission from the UK Government,
components of the USA's (National Missile Defense) NMD system
already have been installed on UK Defence Lands at RAF Menwith
Hill and RAF Fylingdales. This fait accompli makes the current
public consultation exercise a sham.
The formal request from the USA Federal Government
on 17 December 2002; the issue of the UK Defence Secretary's much-publicised
discussion document; the deliberation of evidence presented to
the UK Parliamentary Defence Committee, preceding the UK Government's
decision whether or not to grant the requested permission, is
a mockery of a democratic exercise.
Additionally there has been cost to the UK Budget
from the USA's NMD developments and additional security measures
installed to protect them.
RAF MENWITH HILL:
In our first submission to the Defence Committee,
we examined ownership of Defence Lands; the Acts of Parliament
governing use of the land and the powers granted to the Secretary
of State for Defence. We presented the evidence that Menwith Hill
(in common with all the other US Bases in the UK) was established
as a NATO Base. It properly should not engage in any activities,
which are not sanctioned by the NATO Status of Forces Agreement
1951. The US DoD may not, under UK Law, pursue exclusively the
interests of the United States by installing components of its
NMD system in bases it occupies in the UK. It is not in the power
of the Secretary of State for Defence to grant such permission.
In this second submission we request that you
consider the evidence that the USA Department of Defense (DoD)
has violated UK Law by proceeding with construction of NMD equipment,
related station infrastructure developments and upgrading of security
to protect that equipment. That the US DoD has been able to do
this, without either consulting the UK Government or obtaining
its approval, has serious implications for the UK's scrutiny and
control of developments at the US Bases in Britain.
Menwith Hill, the largest USA Signals' Intelligence
Station in the World, was established as "an integral
part of the worldwide network which supports the United States,
the United Kingdom and NATO interests. The arrangement has been
made in accordance with the agreement regarding the status of
forces of parties to the North Atlantic treaty of 1951 and other
arrangements appropriate to the relationship that exists between
the United Kingdom and the United States for the purposes of our
common defence." (Hansard: Adjournment Debate,
25 March 1994: Jeremy Hanley, Minister of State for the Armed
Forces in reply to the late Bob Cryer MP). This statement has
been repeated frequently in reply to MPs' Parliamentary Questions;
there is no question that Menwith Hill is supposed to function
as a NATO Base.
Since 1966 the base has been occupied and operated
by the USA's National Security Agency (NSA). It is engaged in
interception of telecommunications, which are relayed to NSA HQ
at Fort Meade, Maryland. The main feature of the base is the array
of 29 (shortly to be 30) gigantic white "golf balls"
radomes, which contain receiving antenna dishes downlinking from
satellite communications. In addition there are extensive, windowless
Operations Blocks, over 100 mast aerials, administration offices
and warehouses, plus a sizeable USA "town". It was excluded
from the Nidderdale Area of outstanding Natural Beauty on the
ground that it is ugly.
On 19 June 1997 a "Notice of Proposed Development"
(under the terms of the Department of the Environment's Circular
18/84, "Crown Land and Crown Development") for development
of the Space Based Infra Red (SBIRS) at "RAF" Menwith
Hill was submitted to the Harrogate Borough Council Planning Department.
The "applicant" was (as usual) ostensibly the UK Ministry
of Defence Estates' Senior Advisor (North) and not the USA Department
of Defense, which purchases, erects and operates all the structures
and equipment on the base.
The plans consisted of proposals to erect two
"golf ball" radomes, with an outline planning option
for two others; ancillary support buildings; expansion of the
Operations Blocks; a separate Battery House (qv); partial demolition
of the existing Personnel Center (Ops Offices and Electronic Engineering
Workshops) and construction of another, much larger "Mission
Support Building". The plans were accompanied by a statement,
purporting to be issued by "Her Majesty's Government",
which welcomed the new role of Menwith Hill as the European Relay
Ground Station for the SBIRS development.
The plans were advertised and representations
invited from members of the public. Although the provisions of
DoE Circular 18/84 do not give the power to veto plans for developments
at Menwith Hill (it is Crown Defence Land), the Council's Planning
Committee may make observations within limited criteria. The Committee
would expect its recommendations to be implemented, or at least
taken into consideration. It has the power to ask the Secretary
of State to "call in" the application and appoint a
Planning Inspector to conduct a non-statutory Public Inquiry.
In practice the Council has never done so; it welcomes the assumed
economic benefit to the area, which the base is said to provide.
Objectors expressed concern that there are no
controls on expansion of the base. Harrogate Borough Council's
No 1 Area Planning Committee approved the plans, with no objections
from the members, at its August 1997 meeting. Construction of
the initial SBIRS was completed in 2000.
The significance of the plans in relation to
the USAs NMD proposals was not publicly recognised in 1997. At
that stage the US Government had made no public announcement about
its NMD programme, because Congress had not considered it. It
was not until Duncan Campbell published an article, "Star
Wars Strikes Back", in the Guardian on 3 December
1998, that the SBIRS role was publicly identified as a component
of a missile defence system. SBIRS' only function is the detection
of ballistic missiles aimed at the continental United States.
It is designed to identify and track ballistic missiles after
the rocket motor has burnt out and the missile has entered the
ballistic trajectory. It does this by detecting the infra red
heat of the missile against the colder background of space. (It
does not appear to work).
The current installations are the inception
of a "Star Wars" programme, as described by US Space
Command in its publication "Vision for 2020" in late
1996, which envisages the militarisation of orbital space. The
fact that SBIRS is a component of USA's NMD is attested by publications
of the US Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency and Lockheed-Martin,
the developers. The information is published on the Internet.
WoMenwith Hill women have maintained close observation
of activities and developments at the Menwith Hill base. Information
has been acquired from published sources; from files held at the
Harrogate Planning Department; from replies to letters raising
issues of concern with Harrogate Borough Council, the MoD Defence
Estates' Office and Government Ministers and by going openly into
the station and being escorted off by the MoD Police. It is evident,
from these observations, that the USAs SBIRS developments did
not originate even with the submission of the plans to the local
authority in 1997, but were being introduced in installments for
several years prior to that date. Elements of the system were
being installed as early as 1994, which is prior to the date when
either the US Congress or UK Parliament was informed about it.
We should like to know whether the Secretary of State for Defence
at this time, Michael Portillo, had foreknowledge of the NMD project.
Late in December 2000, Notice of Proposed Development
(NoPD) for two Battery Charging Houses was submitted to Harrogate
Planning Department. It was evident that these battery chargers
were for the batteries housed in the SBIRS' Battery House and
had been omitted from the 1997 NoPD. The sensitive electronic
equipment used in Ops requires a "true uninterruptible
power supply (UPS), which can only be provided by batteries".The
batteries have to be accommodated in a separate building for health
and safety reasons. Menwith Hill generates its own electricity.
The alternating current cannot be rectified smoothly enough for
the electronic equipment, but it can be used to charge the Ops
batteries. The plans were accompanied with a request to expedite
the planning procedure, although the Battery Charging Units were
not installed until Spring 2002.
By December 2000 the USA's NMD programme was
public knowledge and considerable opposition to it had developed,
to "Star Wars", as it was commonly known. In the Harrogate
District, particularly, fear of a retaliatory attack on Menwith
Hill, by enemies of the USA, was growing. Some people recognised
that without the battery chargers the SBIRS equipment would be
unable to function. The Harrogate Planning Department received
approximately 200 objections to the proposals. Despite the volume
of letters received, the Chief Planning Officer approved the plans,
under "delegated legislation", without deliberation
by the Area No.1 Planning Committee Members.
On Friday 9 March 2001, we wrote to the Secretary
of State for Defence and approached a local MP, Harold Best, at
his Constituency Surgery the following day, in order to discuss
our concerns about the Harrogate Head of Planning Services' decision
to offer no objections to the plans. Harold Best submitted our
enquiry to the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon on 21
March. We asked for an explanation why elements of USA's NMD system
had been installed at Menwith Hill. No permission had been granted
for the use of the base for USA's NMD, as there had been no request
from the US Government. In his reply, on behalf of Geoff Hoon,
John Spellar (then Minister of State for the Armed Forces) stated:
". . .your constituents were concerned
about the handling of a recent planning application at RAF Menwith
Hill. Let me make clear that this has been conducted entirely
in accordance with the established guidelines and procedures".
"Perhaps it would be helpful for me to
explain the situation regarding the European Relay Ground Station
for the Space based Infra Red System (SBIRS) currently under construction
at RAF Menwith Hill. The wider SBIRS project, of which the European
Relay Ground Station is a part, is designed to detect the launch
of ballistic missiles, and is a replacement for the ageing Defence
Support Programme (DSP) satellites. DSP has for some years contributed
to the security of NATO and the UK, and SBIRS will continue to
enhance this capability."
"The US regards SBIRS as necessary irrespective
of any decision on missile defence, and it is being handled as
a separate project. SBIRS would be capable of providing early
warning of ballistic missile launches to a missile defence system
should we agree to any request from the US for it to do so. .
Nick Cohen, in an article entitled "It's
Cold War up North"published in The Observer, 29
April 2001, referred to the objections to the two Battery Charger
"Last month Harrogate Council considered
a planning application to install battery-charging houses at RAF
Menwith Hill. They will power the Space Based Infra Red System
the Americans will use to identify warheads. The objections of
200 people weren't considered, and elected councillors did not
debate the application. That bogus `RAF' in RAF Menwith Hill has
its uses. The base is on Crown Land and it is a Royal prerogative
to exempt itself from democratic scrutiny. Monarchical Britain's
archaic constitution and the interests of the American Republicans
suit each other well. `We have no control', said a council spokeswoman.
`There's nothing we can do to stop them.
`Harold Best, the Labour MP for Leeds North-West,
took the last available option. He wrote to Geoff Hoon, and asked
the Defence Secretary to open up the secret process by holding
a public inquiry into the expansion of Menwith Hill. . ."
Nick Cohen's article was discussed at the full
Harrogate Council Meeting in May 2001. The Councillors decided
to write a letter to the Prime Minister asking for more information
about the role of Menwith Hill and requesting assurances that
they would be consulted about the implications for the locality,
of any US NMD developments at the base. The Nidderdale Herald
reported the decision as its lead story on 11 May under the headline"Terrorism
Fear over US base".The article raised the questions:
"Would incoming missiles shot down over Nidderdale distribute
radioactive wreckage? Would Menwith Hill become a terrorist target
if the Son of Star Wars programme goes ahead? How much protection
will Harrogate get?" The Council's Chief Executive Officer,
Mike Walsh, was quoted as saying: "We want to know what
are the implications for this district. We do not want Harrogate
to become the target for terrorist action, nor do we want it to
become a site for mass protest. . ."
In response to their request, a delegation from
the Council was invited to meet representatives from the MoD in
London. Their visit was delayed by subsequent events.
From 3 July until 5 July there was a Greenpeace
"anti-Star Wars" protest at the base, during which over
100 demonstrators entered Menwith Hill and occupied the water
tower, a camera mast and the roof of the SBIRS radomes' ancillary
building. Geoff Hoon visited Menwith Hill on 5 July and the first
measures to upgrade the station's security were implemented the
following week (without NoPD to Harrogate Planning Department).
This `invasion' of the base was a `high-profile' publicity stunt.
There are many more protests, which do not command similar levels
of media attention.
The attacks on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers
in the USA on 11 September 2001, delayed the London meeting between
Councillors and MoD until October. A statement, written by the
RAF Commander at Menwith Hill, Squadron Leader Howard Newbould,
was published to coincide with the meeting. (RAF Commander is
a nominal title given to the UK MoD Liaison Officer for the USA
NSA's Base Commander). This statement was reported in the local
press as a new, open and accountable presentation by ROYAL AIRFORCE
MENWITH HILL. Sub-headings such as: "UK/US Cooperation
on Defence and Security:" and statements such as ".
. . work at the base is carried out by mixed teams of UK and US
operators. . ." contrive to convey a totally misleading impression
that the base is a joint UK/USA operation, with the UK as the
dominant partner. In his statement related to SBIRS (final paragraph,
page 1) Squadron Leader Newbould acknowledges that "SBIRS
is a world-wide satellite based system that is designed to detect
infra-red targets, such as a missile launch. This information
is then relayed from the SBIRS satellites to the ground stations
which, when they become operational, will pass this to the SBIRS
Mission Control Station in Colorado. SBIRS is a US Space Command
Programme due to come on stream in 2006 and updates the existing
but ageing Defence Support Programme (DSP) constellation of satellites."
The anticipated USA NMD role of Menwith Hill
and Fylingdales has generated considerable regional publicity.
The bases are identified as "targets for terrorists"
and a focus for peace protests. This has had consequence for the
taxpayers of the UK and the Council Taxpayers of North Yorkshire.
Extra civilian armed police personnel and vehicles have been assigned
to the security of both bases. In November 2001, "North
Yorkshire Police Authority has welcomed the announcement from
Home Secretary, David Blunkett, that North Yorkshire Police will
get an extra cash grant of £1 million over two financial
years. The additional money is to help towards extra costs incurred
in providing enhanced policing around military bases at Menwith
Hill and Fylingdales." (Harrogate Advertiser: 9 November
2001). We raised with Ann Cryer MP, the issue of a considerable
rise, for payment of policing, in the North Yorkshire Council
Tax Budget for 2002. She wrote to the Geoff Hoon and received
a reply dated 8 March 2002, from Adam Ingram, Minister of State
for the Armed Forces, which stated:
"I can confirm that, following the mass
trespass by Greenpeace activists in July 2001 and the more recent
events of 11 September, security at RAF Menwith Hill has been
reviewed and additional Ministry of Defence Police officers have
been deployed. Whilst it would be inappropriate to comment in
detail on the security arrangements at RAF Menwith Hill, I can
confirm that North Yorkshire and Ministry of Defence Police units
are patrolling jointly as part of the anti-terrorist measures
put in place. The question of additional police grant to North
Yorkshire Police and the payment of council tax are matters for
the Home Secretary and the Chief Executive of North Yorkshire
County Council respectively. I can confirm however that an appropriate
recovery is made from the US Authorities of costs incurred by
the MoD Police at Menwith Hill."
During the past 12 months or so, 25 plans for
expansion of Menwith Hill's infrastructure and upgrading of security
have been submitted to the Harrogate Planning Department. None
of these individual proposals would justify a Public Inquiry,
but considered as a "package" the plans amount to substantial
development. All of them, including a 100ft diameter "golf
ball" and a substantial supermarket and restaurant (PX Facility)
have been determined by the Planning Officer under delegated legislation,
without discussion by the Area no 1 Planning Committee. Some of
our objections to the plans are published on the Internet at URL
For over 20 years we have been exposing the
abuses perpetrated by Menwith Hill, including contravention of
UK Laws. We have objected that development is out of control.
We have taken a case to the Local Government Ombudsman complaining
that the local authority countenances the malpractices practised
by the base authorities. We are currently preparing a case for
the attention of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. We have been obliged
to "take the law into our own hands"and as a consequence
been arrested, convicted and imprisoned. We have considerable
files containing correspondence with Members of Parliament, local
government officers, etc. We supply information to the media.
We are in the peculiar position of being better informed about
Menwith Hill than most local or national authorities or even the
station authorities (as the US personnel are at Menwith Hill on
two-year assignments). We have amassed considerable evidence,
about the established USA NMD installations at "RAF"
Menwith Hill and violations of the law. We should welcome the
opportunity to present more information.
RAF Fylingdales Ballistic Missile Early Warning
StationSolid State Phased Array Radar: X-Band Radar System:
In April 2002, in response to the retrospective
planning application for unauthorised security upgrades at RAF
Fylingdales, we made representation to the North York Moors National
Park Authority (NYMNPA) Development sub-Committee. It essentially
covers points, which we should like to draw to the attention of
the Defence Committee. We therefore attach it in its entirety.
Our first submission to the current debate was similarly presented
and reveals to some extent our considerable correspondence and
the information to which we have access.
The equipment at RAF Fylingdales is purchased
and installed by US Space Command. Information about objects coming
over the horizon is gathered by the Solid State Phased Array Radar
(SSPAR) pyramid and transmitted to US Space Command HQ in Colorado.
Some information is supplied to the UK MoD. (Public statement
issued by Wing Commander Chris Knapman, RAF Fylingdales). In all
pictures, which purport to show the Operations' Centre, we are
shown UK Royal Airforce personnel in control, using relatively
unsophisticated computer equipment.
Fylingdales already functions as a Ballistic
Missile Early Warning Station (BMEWS) for the identification of
intercontinental ballistic missiles aimed at the continental United
States. Re-configuration of the SSPAR for the purposes of the
USA's NMD system should cease the pretence that it is also a British
BMEWS monitoring objects, which could land on the UK. Should it
be permitted to change its status from a so-called NATO Base to
a USA NMD Base, would the UK no longer be "protected"
by BMEWS? Unless the BMEWS can be proved to be essential to the
defence of the UK, it would contravene the UK legislation covering
the use of Defence Lands for the defence of the realm. Nor is
there lawful justification for the siting of such a facility in
a National Park (cf our first submission and attachments hereto).
Presumably we should no longer be shown the
pictures of RAF staff in "control" of Ops. Would the
RAF depart Fylingdales? Would there be redundancies? Would they
be employed by the US DoD?
Recent developments, such as US Space Command's
MILSTAR antenna and fibre-optic cables are elements in support
of the USA NMD project. The Under Secretary of State for Defence,
Dr Lewis Moonie, denied that recent upgraded security measures
are preparatory to the use of Fylingdales for US NMD. The primary
purpose, however, would appear to be protection of the existing
US Space Command installations and intended to control protesters
after designation of Fylingdales as an NMD Base. Most recently
a brick wall has been erected to surround the MILSTAR antenna.
No NoPD application has been submitted to the NYMNPA and we have
drawn this further abuse of the planning process to the attention
of the Chief Planning Officer.
There have been several developments at Fylingdales
during 2002, which appear to be expansion of the infrastructure
and upgrading of security. All these evidently are consistent
with preparations for a new role for the base. We enquired of
the Chief Planning Officer if there are any plans "in the
pipeline". We received the reply that there was a proposal
to expand the MoD Police facilities (presumably to accommodate
more MoD Police Officers for increased security purposes) and
"all the buildings on the base are to be refurbished".
We intend to enquire who has paid for the recent developments
and who will pay for the proposed "refurbishment". We
also intend to enquire who pays for the MoD Police responsible
for the security at the base and who will pay for an increase
in their numbers as well as the North Yorkshire Police assigned
to the base security duties.
In 2001 the Council for National Parks obtained
a Legal Opinion concerning the legality of development of Fylingdales
for US NMD from David Wolfe of Matrix Chambers. We anticipate
that the CNP has made representation to the Defence Committee,
but in case not, may we ask you to consider the Legal Opinion.
It is published on the Internet attached as an Annexe to http://cndyorks.gn.apc.org/bases/jwoolley.htm
We are aware that the implications of the USA's
NMD proposals for World peace have been presented to the Defence
Committee by Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the
Menwith Hill Forum. We are affiliated and input to both organisations.
There is no need to reiterate their statements; we endorse them