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Labour and Tory lack of response to space radar slammed by campaigners

CAMPAIGNERS fighting against proposals to build a DARC space radar facility at Brawdy have expressed their concerns at a lack of response from both Labour and the Conservatives after quizzing all candidates for their position.

The UK/US military plans for a 27-dish Deep Space Advanced Radar Concept (DARC) at Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy is part of AUKUS, a three-way security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to build three DARC radar installations around the world, one in each of the three countries.

The radars would track foreign countries’ communications and military satellites in space, so that British, US and Australian aircraft could then destroy them with anti-satellite missiles at will.

A scoping report was submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council early last year, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, which said the United States Space Force (USSF)-led DARC would track active satellites above the Earth.

Late last year, Cawdor Barrack was identified as the preferred UK site by the-then UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps.

Following a packed public launch meeting at Solva Memorial on June 27 with hundreds in attendance the newly launched PARC (Pembrokeshire Against Radar Campaign) Against DARC campaign issued a public challenge to all 15 candidates standing in both Mid and South Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion Preseli.

PARC asked the candidates: “Where do you stand on DARC Radar at Brawdy?”.

PARC has said that “only the Labour and Tory candidates remain silent on this issue”.

Campaigner Jim Scott said: “This isn’t a difficult issue to formulate a position on, we have had responses now from all other parties spanning across the political spectrum. The silence is now deafening, especially from the Labour candidate Henry Tufnell who polls suggest will beat Stephen Crabb in the Mid and South Pembrokeshire seat.

“The new Ceredigion Preseli constituency boundary also falls within a mile of the proposed site at Brawdy so this issue will affect both Pembrokeshire constituencies equally.

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“We know from the responses we’ve received from all the other parties that they all have grave concerns about this proposed development, for example, Cris Tomos who’s standing for Plaid Cymru in Mid and South, has told us that he wishes to help build the case for DARC to be taken to a high court hearing, The Greens are also vociferously against it.”

He added: “All the information is on our website for candidates to educate themselves on the issue so why is Labour who are expected to win the General Election remaining silent? They are duty bound to disclose to their prospective voters where they stand on this before polling day rather than waiting till afterwards to reveal their Party’s position. The silence is so deafening now that it’s almost like they’ve been told to ‘keep quiet on DARC’.”

Responses either in support of the campaign or raising concerns about the proposals have been received from both Plaid Cymru candidates, Liberal Democrat Mark Williams, Taghrid Al-Mawed of the Workers Party, Stuart Marchant of Reform, and both Green Party candidates, DARC has said.

Labour candidate Henry Tufnell said: “On the DARC issue, we are currently awaiting the environmental impact assessment and town planning application. I have raised the concerns of local residents with Labour’s shadow defence policy team.

“I understand that the site is of significant concern for local residents and it is important that their views are represented throughout the process.”

Fellow candidate Jackie Jones said her response aligns with Mr Tufnell’s

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service,  Ceredigion Preseli Conservative candidate Aled Thomas said: “The proposed DARC Radar is not in the Ceredigion Preseli constituency that I am standing for parliament in, therefore it would clearly be inappropriate and improper for me to comment on it so publicly.”

“If any residents of Ceredigion Preseli have concerns about this project they can always get in touch with me ensuring they include their address and I will be more than happy to discuss their concerns with them, only one resident has done so thus far in my role as a candidate at this election.”

Mid and South Pembrokeshire Conservative candidate Stephen Crabb said: “My views on DARC have been widely circulated in the public domain since December last year and everyone who has emailed me about this issue has received a reply so this press release from a well-known multi-issue protester is disappointing. The information has also been clearly stated on my website and on my Facebook page since last year.

“As I have previously said – I have always been hugely supportive of Cawdor Barracks, home to the 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) here in Pembrokeshire. It is an important strategic asset for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and to the Pembrokeshire economy. Since it was announced last year that Cawdor Barracks had been chosen as the preferred site for the new deep space radar system, I have been vocal about the need to protect the natural environment and listen to residents’ concerns.

“As I understand it, Pembrokeshire County Council has been working with the MOD on an initial scoping exercise ahead of a potential planning application. Local councillors should be in a position to provide the latest update on this. I had an initial meeting with the PCC Chief Executive some months ago to raise some questions about the timeline of the project.”

“There are some specific questions and concerns that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) will need to address to ensure that local people have confidence in this development should it go ahead. This is why I firmly believe it is so important that the MOD must work closely with the local communities in Solva, St Davids and Newgale to explain what this is all about and why Pembrokeshire is the preferred site.”

“Shortly before the election was called, I asked the Minister for Defence for an update on Project DARC, and took the opportunity to stress the importance of good open communication with the local community.  Should I be re-elected, I will continue to put pressure on the Ministry of Defence to ensure that residents’ concerns are listened to and that the local community feel heard.”

Campaign group PARC Against DARC’s impression of what the radar base could look like (Pic: PARC Against DARC)
Campaign group PARC Against DARC’s impression of what the radar base could look like (Pic: PARC Against DARC)

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