MP raises Otterburn concerns

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has expressed concern at new figures showing a steep rise in the number of reported injuries at the MoD's firing ranges at Otterburn.

Wednesday, 14th September 2016, 13:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 13:00 pm
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick Upon Tweed

The ranges, large parts of which fall within her north Northumberland constituency, are presently hosting an investigation team following the tragic death of Private Conor McPherson, 24 of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, last month.

Mrs Trevelyan tabled a Written Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Defence to ask how many non-fatal accidents had been reported at Otterburn Ranges since the last set of figures were released in 2007.

The response from the Department demonstrated a steep rise in the number of reported incidents, leaping from 54 in 2014-15 to 119 last year. The figures include regular personnel, as well as reservists, cadets and civilians.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster explained that the figure can be partly explained by an improvement in reporting of accidents, and by increased usage of the ranges.

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Mrs Trevelyan said of the findings: “Following the tragic death of a soldier during a live firing exercise last month, I was concerned to find out whether we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our Armed Forces when they are training on the Otterburn Ranges – I am deeply concerned by the fact that the number of injuries more than doubled last year and I will be calling for a meeting with the Defence Safety Authority to get a better understanding of the reasons for these injuries.

“The DSA was established in April 2015 to investigate such injuries and make recommendations to prevent further such occurrences – I want to know from them what will be done to reverse this worrying trend.”

Mrs Trevelyan is seeking a meeting with the newly-established Defence Safety Authority to learn more about why the number of incidents has increased and what is being done to reduce the rate.