Ryeview – October 2001

Will Fylingdales be of help?

John Clark writes…

First published: October 2001 – Gazette & Herald

From the 11th September 2001 Ryedale has joined the rest of the world. The U.S.A. has always chosen its own degree of isolation. Ryedale may not have this choice on the basis that it contains Fylingdales.

The events in New York and Washington are continually being described as unimaginable, unbelievable, beyond credibility etc. Horrendous – yes. Obscene – yes. Terrifying – yes. Shocking – yes. But certainly imaginable. I belong to the ‘What if’ brigade. My imagination has certainly included terrorists crashing aircraft into cities. This fortunately was at the less dramatic end of the scale. What if the terrorists had been carrying biological, chemical or even nuclear weapons? What if the terrorists had flown the aircraft into a nuclear power station?

Driving back from Whitby towards Pickering one of the first signs is ‘Ryedale’. Shortly afterwards appears ‘Fylingdales’ There are no road blocks, no armed vehicles, no defence against crashing aircraft, no defence against radiation, biological agents etc. If the Pentagon was vulnerable then Fylingdales is waiting to happen.

George W. Bush told the world that it was an attack on ‘civilisation’ and ‘democracy’. He may be wrong. Surely in symbolic terms it was an attack on world capitalism and militarism. Fylingdales is a military symbol throughout the U.K. I believe it is infinitely more likely to be attacked than is the democratic centre of Ryedale at Ryedale House.

We all abhor the message from the terrorists. Not to listen would be even worse. Ryedale must discuss, debate and decide on the future of Fylingdales.

Why is Fylingdales there? What function does it serve?

  • Is it there to give the U.K. an early warning? The events in New York and Washington showed clearly that a few minutes warning is of little value.
  • Is it for tracking missiles, satellites etc round the world?       Is it vital for the defence of Britain?
  • Is it something to do with Star Wars II? If it is, why do we want to be a target not only for military attack but also for terrorists?

Surely we are entitled to know. If someone wishes to change a building from a house to a corner shop there has   to be a ‘change of use’ planning application. I don’t expect the U.S.A. to simply ask the local council for permission though it would be nice! I do however believe that the people of Ryedale are entitled to know whether we are living next to a big telescope or a potential disaster that could destroy much if not all of Ryedale.

The decision stage must be thorough. It must include the councils, Ryedale District Council, Scarborough Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council, North York Moors National Park Authority etc. Involving the public through the press and public meetings. Even the politicians could take part. The choices are:

  • Carry on as we are.
  • Increase the defences immensely –roadblocks, air surveillance etc. i.e. Fortress Fylingdales.
  • Campaign to have Fylingdales either removed from Star Wars or have it shut down.

It is no use discussing after the event. We must decide our position and act if appropriate prior to such a potential crisis.

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