HC Deb 26 January 1989 vol 145 cc756-8W
Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the advertised live firing times were actually used by his Ministry in the Dartmoor national park in the calendar year 1988; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Neubert

For the three live firing ranges on Dartmoor, the figures for 1988 are as follows:

Percentage of advertised live firing times actually used
Range per cent.
Okehampton 65.4
Merrivale 68.4
Willsworthy 64.5

We have an agreement—made in recognition of the importance of the national park—to restrict live firing to a certain number of days each year on these ranges and we have been conscientious in our observance of these restrictions. Firing has to be planned well in advance. and, because we cannot plan to fire on a greater number of days than those agreed, there is inevitably some degree of underutilisation. Firing programmes are affected by two main factors, weather and urgent changes in military commitments (such as short-notice deployments and military aid to the civil community tasks).

As my hon. Friend explained on 3 Feburary 1988 at columns 1138–42, Dartmoor continues to meet essential military requirements for live and dry training. Its importance has grown in recent years because of the increased training requirements of the larger numbers of regular and TA forces now based in this county and because of the increased demands of modern weapons.

While the Government will continue to be alert to any opportunities which may arise to reduce the demands of military training or to promote increased public access to the training areas, it remains the Government's policy to ensure that the facilities necessary for efficient and effective training are available to meet defence requirements. There is no foreseeable prospect of any significant reduction in those requirements but the Government remain fully committed meanwhile to seeking the best possible reconciliation between military and national park interests.

Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much compensation he has paid to farmers with animals grazing in the Dartmoor national park which have been killed, maimed or injured in each of the last five years.

Mr. Neubert

A total of some £2,400 has been paid in compensation to farmers in the Dartmoor national park area for animals which have been killed as a result of Army training and manoeuvres. This figure can be broken down as follows:

1984 20
1985 60
1986 130
1987 990
1988 1,200

There are a few claims still outstanding.

Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many animals have been killed or injured by live firing in the Dartmoor national park in each of the past five years.

Mr. Neubert

The figures for the period 1984–88 are as follows:

Animals killed Year
1 Sheep 1984
1 Pony 198S
3 Sheep 1986
1 Sheep, 2 Cattle 1987
3 Sheep, 2 Cattle1 1988
1 One of the two cattle killed in 1988 was the result of a road traffic accident.

The available military statistics do not indicate the number of animals injured.