Extreme anti-terrorist measure could mean local flats are Olympic missile site
Sunday, 29 April 2012
April 29 - Surface-to-air missiles could be installed in residential areas during London 2012 in the most extreme anti-terrorist measure yet to be considered for the Olympics and Paralympics.
According to reports published today, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is evaluating placing the devices in a densely populated neighbourhood close to the Olympic Park in East London in order to ward off terror threats.
"Site evaluations and exercises have taken place," an MoD official was quoted as saying after residents revealed they had received leaflets warning them of the possibility of the missiles.
"Ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of a multi-layered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the Games," added the official.
News of the missile plans broke after Brian Whelan, a local journalist, said he was "absolutely shocked" after receiving one of the leaflets.
Although no stone is being left unturned to beef up security which has a £1 billion ($1.6 billion /€1.2 billion) budget for the Olympics and Paralympics, Whelan said missile deployment at his apartment block of 700 people would be way over the top.
"This is a highly built-up area," he said.
"I can't imagine any situation in which you could safely use a high-velocity missile.
"People are quite shocked.
"I don't think anybody expected that the price you pay for hosting the Olympics is militarising residential communities."
It would be the first time anti-aircraft weapons are deployed in London since the end of World War Two.
"There was no consultation," Whelan continued.
"You just wake up one morning and there's a leaflet telling you they are going to put missiles on the roof."
The MoD said in a statement it had chosen a former water tower (pictured top) on the site for possible deployment because it offered "an excellent view of the surrounding area and the entire sky above the Olympic Park".
The tower was in fact "the only suitable site in this area for the HVM (high velocity missile) system," it added.
The leaflet states that Army personnel would be at the location for "major national exercise" between May 2 and 10 for testing purposes.
It adds that if the Government decides to use the missiles during the Games, soldiers could be "operationally deployed for a period of up to two months this summer".
But Whelan countered: "They say they'll only use them as a last resort, but...you'd shower debris across the East End of London by firing these missiles."
"They are going to have a test run next week, putting high velocity missiles on the roof just above our apartment and on the back of it they're stationing police and military in the tower of the building for two months.
"It [the leaflet] says there will be ten officers plus police present 24/7."
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