Council block identified as Olympic missile site
A London council has said it is ‘surprised’ that the Ministry of Defence is proposing placing a missile defence system on a social housing block as part of Olympic security plans.
The MOD confirmed this week that it has identified six sites around the Olympic park for ground-based air defence systems.
One of the sites suggested is Fred Wigg Tower, a 117-home block run by arm’s-length management organisation Ascham Homes, in Leytonstone, which manages Waltham Forest Council’s 12,400-home housing stock.
A council spokesperson said: ‘We were naturally surprised when we were approached about placing a missile system on the roof of Fred Wigg Tower during the Olympic Games.
‘The MOD has impressed upon us that this is the only suitable location in the vicinity and that the equipment will form a vital part of national defence plans.
‘The armed forces are talking directly with residents to reassure them that disruption will be kept to a minimum and to answer any of their concerns.’
The other sites suggested include Lexington Building, a private block of apartments in Bow, Blackheath Common in south east London, William Girling reservoir in Enfield, Barn Hill in Epping Forest, Essex and Oxleas Meadow in Greenwich.
The MOD is carrying out a major security exercise from tomorrow (2 May) until 10 May, involving the deployment of ships, helicopters and jets. The ground-based defence systems will be deployed to the six sites during the exercise, but a final decision on whether they will be used to site missile systems during the games will be made by the secretary of state after the exercise.
Philip Hammond, defence secretary, said: ‘The majority of this exercise will be played out in full view of the public and I hope that it will have a secondary effect of reassuring the British people that everything possible is being done to ensure this will be a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games.’