§ Mr. Menzies Campbell
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what representations he has received from residents of the Republic of Germany concerning the recent manoeuvre Iron Hammer; and if he will make a statement.
(2) if, following the recent manoeuvre Iron Hammer in Lower Saxony, he will review the operational instructions given to members of the British Army with the intention of reducing the environmental impact of such exercises.
§ Mr. Neubert
Exercise Iron Hammer took place from 1 to 27 November 1988 in Lower Saxony and involved 3rd Armoured Division. Great efforts were made by the exercise controllers to avoid damage to the environment. Movement of tactical vehicles was restricted to take account of poor ground conditions and CinC BAOR had agreed earlier, and very readily, to a request that an area of land which had already seen more than its fair share of exercise activity in 1988 should not be used during Iron Hammer. German local governments expressed their satisfaction with the way in which the exercise was conducted. A newly installed "hot-line" designed to enable public complaints to be received and dealt with promptly proved very effective.
Realistic exercises are essential if troops are to maintain operational effectiveness. Although some damage is inevitable and there are well-established procedures for dealing with claims, our military authorities in Germany are very aware of the need to protect the environment and take their responsibilities in this regard very seriously indeed. Before an exercise is allowed to commence all participants are carefully briefed on damage control and avoidance and are issued with written instructions. Exercise play is kept under the closest possible review by controllers, so that plans can quickly be changed if there 44W is a risk of undue damage. Procedures are reviewed after each exercise with a view to keeping the environmental impact of training to a minimum.