Terrorist air threats will be diverted to Scotland during Olympics

71
1215

By a Newsnet reporter
 
Aeroplanes suspected of harbouring a threat from terrorists are to be diverted to a Scottish airport in order to protect London during the Olympic games.
 
The news is revealed in a report in today’s Scotsman newspaper which claims that Prestwick airport has been chosen to receive suspect flights.

According to the paper Strathclyde police are preparing to deploy a round-the-clock presence at the Ayrshire airport in anticipation of dangerous flights being detected by UK intelligence.

Planes thought to contain bombs or believed to be under threat from hijackers will land at Prestwick instead of London’s Stansted.  The cost of footing the police bill will fall on Scottish taxpayers.

The news follows reports that an extra £41m is to be spent on the London Olympics opening ceremony in order to bolster security.  It includes an estimated 800 Scottish police officers who will be drafted in to help their southern counterparts.

Few people are aware that suspect flights from the west are already diverted to Prestwick with those from the east sent to Stansted.  However, throughout the games and the build-up, the Scottish airport is currently the sole airport for these flights.

Speaking to the Scotsman, Strathclyde Chief Constable Stephen House, who revealed the plans yesterday, said: “Currently, the UK has two airports where aeroplanes are taken to if there is some type of incident – Stansted and Prestwick.

“However, Locog has told us that, due to everything happening in London, Stansted will not be used.

“We cannot operate on a basis where something happens at Prestwick and we then scramble down there – we will have to have large numbers based there.

“Throughout the entire envelope of the Olympics – a fairly extended time, which will not just cover the Games themselves – we are going to have to provide a high level of security at Prestwick. That’s going to cost.

“The UK government is looking for another airport in the north of England, but we will still have to provide this extra police presence at Prestwick.”

The extra cost to Scottish taxpayers has been criticised.  There is already a £1.2 million burden on Glasgow for having to host some of the game’s football matches at Hampden.  It comes at a time when Scottish forces are facing cuts of around £4 million.

Allan Falconer, vice-convener of Strathclyde Police Authority, said: “Last week, the Olympic committee announced they would be spending an extra £41m on the opening ceremony.  And yet we in Strathclyde are having to pick up the bill for the football and the airport security.

“Myself, and other members, were concerned that Prestwick Airport will now have to be policed 24/7 with specialist officers.  That’s going to cost, and we’ve had no notification that we are going to be reimbursed.

“In these austere times, it’s ridiculous that we are asking taxpayers to pick up the tab.”

The has been a mixed response to the London Olympics in Scotland where some funds have being diverted from Scottish good causes in order to help fund the project.  The UK government also controversially refused to give the devolved administrations equivalent extra funding to that being spent on England’s south east.