An unmanned aerial system has been recovered by security personnel after landing at UK nuclear bases, according to government-released logs (Picture: Getty)
Recently released files show drones being confiscated by security personnel at nuclear facilities, along with a report of a ‘swarm’ at a UK installation.
Unmanned aerial systems were either sighted or secured at sites across the country amid concerns over the security threat posed by the technology.
Twenty such reports have been released to Metro.co.uk between 2020 and last year under the Freedom of Information Act. In two cases, the drones landed ‘in the field’ and were secured by personnel.
Several other reports were made of aerial vehicles near facilities or nuclear objects such as reactors, boats and submarines.
One of the one-line logs, which gave few details and did not identify the locations, read: ‘Drone landed at site. Logged in.’
Last year, three cases were settled by the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Another report said: ‘Red light in the area, sounded like a drone.’
Visuals performed by members of the public were also recorded. One report read: ‘The public saw the white van and a male, saying they saw two lights in the sky and assumed they were drones.’
In another response a passing description reveals there were reports of a swarm – where interconnected drones participate in the same operation or attack – at a nuclear-licensed site in the UK.
The incident occurred between January 2014 and July 2020, according to the Office for Nuclear Regulation, which gave no further details.
The reports come at a time of escalating tensions between the West and China and Russia, which have been linked to concerted physical and cyber espionage operations in the UK.
The widespread availability of drones has had implications for the UK’s critical infrastructure (Picture: Richard Newstead/Getty)
In April, a source told the Sunday People that Chinese spies in Britain were targeting “very sensitive installations” such as military bases and nuclear power stations with aerial systems.
Peter Burt, who has studied the use of drones and is part of the Nukewatch surveillance network, wants UK officials to provide a more complete picture of incidents and potential threats.
Mr Burt told Metro.co.uk: ‘There have certainly been cases of coordinated swarms of drones flying over nuclear facilities in other countries, for example in France and the United States, so it is our own nuclear facilities. raises questions about the safety of , I think it is a valid question to ask whether similar incidents have happened in this country and if they have happened, who do we think is behind them?
‘When I have submitted Freedom of Information Act requests regarding this issue, I have received very little information from the Ministry of Defense and I think there is a clear public interest in disclosing more information.’
The nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point C in Somerset is one of the UK’s critical infrastructure (Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
Unmanned aircraft are not allowed to fly over the airspace of nuclear plants, such as Sailfield in Seascale, England (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
In July 2020, the potential danger was demonstrated in the US when a swarm was observed in a two-night run at a nuclear reactor in Arizona.
Official reports suggest incidents at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station involving half a dozen craft on each occasion remained unresolved.
The logs released in the UK do not clarify who was operating the drone at the time or if any of the reports resulted in further investigation, with the MoD seeking further details through Freedom of Information Act requests. Tried.
Work is currently being undertaken by the Government to enhance the UK’s response to threats posed by increasingly sophisticated and widely used air systems at home and abroad.
This includes a project to find innovative ways to reduce hostile use of the system, through Defense and Security Accelerators, and the RAF’s Project Synergia, which provided counter-drone technology.
The UK is exploring innovative solutions to tackle the threat from unmanned aerial systems (Picture: Getty Images/Westend61)
Mr Burt said: ‘There are a lot of issues related to nuclear security and it is quite fitting that the Ministry of Defense and nuclear operators would like to keep their sites as safe as possible.
‘Also, it’s no secret that people are using drones for nefarious purposes all over the world and in this country too, so I think we need to have a conversation about this and how the government deals with this issue. going to deal with.
‘If they are unable to deal with it effectively then it raises the question whether we should consider alternative means of power generation.’
Drones along with any type of unmanned aircraft are banned under the Air Navigation Order 2016 from flying over the airspace of nuclear installations.
Refusing to release further details about the reported incidents, the MoD cited a national security exemption saying the release of the information would be ‘prejudice to the defense of the UK’.
A spokesman said: ‘We have strong security measures in place at all defense sites, including nuclear sites, to respond to such incidents.
‘While we cannot comment on specific security arrangements or procedures, we continue to invest in a range of measures to address future threats, including counter-drone technology.’
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