Thursday, December 8th 2011 - 20:01 UTC

Falklands’ land mine clearance set to enter a new expanded phase in early 2012

Robin Swanson, head of the Demining Program Office and visiting the Falkland Islands this week ahead of the new phase of land-mine clearance due to start early next year, confirmed that the forthcoming planned clearances will advance the demining process from the pilot stage to a more advanced “land release” phase.

Sapper Hill  behind minefield fences

At a meeting held on Wednesday in Government House, Robin stated, “The most important difference about this second phase is that the project aim is to release land which is currently unavailable for social use but is considered to be safe. Any mined areas that we encounter will be fenced and marked off in the normal way and the Stanley Common fence will be repositioned following the operation to give unrestricted access to the released area. Operations will start on the 9th January 2012 and finish by 31st March and will be releasing significant areas of land behind the Common fence to the South West of Stanley”

Perhaps most notable in this summer’s clearance will be the renewed access to Sappers Hill Corral. The large stone-walled corral is a notable Falklands’ landmark and was once a popular picnic spot for Stanley residents but has remained unvisited for 30 years behind minefield fences.

Robin explained during questions that in the aftermath of the 1982 Falklands conflict, decisions had to be made quickly with often incomplete information and that with safety paramount large areas were declared as suspect which subsequent analysis of records show contain only limited areas of laid minefields.

Robin stated that; “documentary and historical research is undertaken first, followed by targeted physical investigations in areas where the risk of mines or unexploded ordinance is deemed to be higher. The process of decision making in relation to land release will be fully documented so that decision makers gain confidence in the validity of the adopted approach and the safety of the released land. The Demining Program Office, independent from the demining contractors, will cross-check documentation and also conduct field reviews to audit the process during implementation”.

Robin confirmed that during the clearance of Sapper Hill minefields and the demining of Surf Bay conducted in 2009/10 the number of mines encountered and destroyed matched with the number of documented mines laid from historical records.

Clearance of mines will take place within the restricted areas known to be mined within the greater currently prohibited area. BACTEC International Ltd will again be conducting the clearances and will utilize specialist mechanical equipment in addition to the hand-clearances of the previous phases. Robin explained that an Armtrac 75, a remote controlled tractor fitted with a flail, will be used for clearance and noted that this not only increases the safety of the operation but should hopefully lead to quicker regeneration of the vegetation of the cleared areas.

The announcement and planning for the new phase of land clearances counters Argentina’s recent highly dexterous interpretation of events that last week held the UK responsible for the presence of landmines in the Falklands Islands.

At the recent meeting of the Ottawa Convention in Phnom Penh last week, the Argentine delegation stated: “The only part of Argentine territory which is affected by anti-personnel mines is the Falkland Islands, but Argentina is denied access, because of their illegal occupation by the United Kingdom” omitting to add that the mines were laid by Argentine Forces. In turn, Stuart Casey Maslen, of the International Campaign for the Banning of Landmines went on to insist that if the UK is not going to clear the minefields, it should permit the Argentines to clean the 200,000 [sic] mines that experts believe to be buried in the Falklands.

Whilst no additional official response beyond the UK’s submission to the Ottawa Convention was deemed necessary to counter such claims the Governor of the Falkland Islands, Nigel Haywood, during Wednesday’s meeting re-iterated the British Government’s commitment to the removal of land mines from the Falkland Islands and the rights of the British and Falkland Islands Governments’ to set the agenda and pace of clearance to guarantee the integrity of the operations. In addition, locally elected councilor, MLA Mike Summers told MercoPress that:

“The UK Government has the legal responsibility for the removal of landmines placed by Argentine forces during the illegal invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982. The safe removal of 20,000 anti-personnel mines and 5,000 anti-tank mines spread over 13 sq km in 117 locations in highly variable terrain is an onerous task. Four areas have been cleared to date testing methodology and safety of operation, and further clearance is planned commencing in January 2012. Argentina has no jurisdiction in the Falkland Islands, and the people of the Falkland Islands have no wish to see Argentines here in any mine clearance role, albeit clearing up the mess they left behind. If Argentina wishes to make a financial contribution to clearance no doubt the UK Government would be happy to receive their offer. All the minefields in the Falkland Islands are fenced and clearly marked, and present no immediate danger to people. The people of the Falkland Islands are happy to see mine clearance carried out in other Countries with more immediate dangers to their populations, but will support the UK in their task in the Islands.”

Planning and preparing for the landmine clearances in the Falkland Islands by the UK Government has met with considerable challenges, not least what was determined “The Falkland’s Initiative”, a proposal by Islanders that to avoid the environmental damage that the de-mining process was believed to cause and the enormous financial cost of clearing mines that in practical terms represent scarcely any risk to civilians, the money should rather be spent on mine clearances in parts of the world where due to mines people are at a very real risk of death, injury or loss of livelihood.

However, despite such initial problems and debate, mine clearance is now underway and this summer will see a significant release of safe land in the Falklands for public use with the expansion of the program. Robin Swanson concluded; “We had a tremendous amount of support from the Islanders during the first phase of the pilot demining project and I am sure we will receive the same welcome and support again.”

By Grant Munro – SeAledPR - Stanley


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1 xbarilox (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 08:20 pm Report abuse
still dealing with that sh*t? after all these years?
2 Islas Malvinas (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 08:50 pm Report abuse
They have no other choice...
They don´t want to let us have more reasons to increase international preasure.

“The only part of argentinian territory with landmines is islas Malvinas”, said Patricio Kingsland, member of the argentinian embassy in Malasya.

Stuart Casey Maslen, an expert part of the International Campain to Ban Landmines asked the UK to allow Argentina clean the 200.000 mines in Malvinas, if the UK refuses to do so...

Argentinian policy is really making the UK move...
An airport in St Helena...
Now cleaning landmines...

Good good! Shake you bom bom!

Oh no! It was all already in the UK plans and it has nothing to do with Argentina! How stupid I am!
Right! Just like sending the blue prince to jumping off a helo in Malvinas for the 30s aniversary of the war... Nothing to do with Argentina, no provocation!

3 stick up your junta (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 09:19 pm Report abuse
Argentinian policy is really making the UK move...
An airport in St Helena

All Westminster Hall debates on 17 Mar 2009
4 Papamoa (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 09:23 pm Report abuse
Just goes to show how much argentina loves the Falklands by planting land mines all over the place and not keeping accurate records so that they can kill and maim children!!! what cowards and low life scum they truly are.
Long Live the Falklands.
5 Rufus (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 10:15 pm Report abuse
Or could it be that the Falkland Islanders, knowing and having fenced off where is suspect to the point where they might lose the very occasional sheep.
Meanwhile they've asked that the British government (who have agreed) to clear an equivalent area in Angola and Cambodia where people are actually being maimed and killed by the evil things.

I'm sure that the Argentinians would be capable of clearing the minefields, anyone can be a mine detector once... The point is that the clearance of minefields is the responsibility of the country whree the minefield is, and no matter how many different forums they witter at about it, the Falkland Islands aren't Argentinan territory.
6 Islas Malvinas (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 10:17 pm Report abuse
7 Marcos Alejandro (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 10:42 pm Report abuse
I was getting worried about MercoPiss, they almost missed the sixty days mine update dictated by the British colonial government in Malvinas.
8 Islas Malvinas (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 11:12 pm Report abuse

Some one in the UK doesn`t hide reality! How come did I miss this article?

Keep spending money...
9 Beef (#) Dec 08th, 2011 - 11:52 pm Report abuse
Islas - the reason no one cares for that article is that it is written in The Guardian! You will find more relevant news in the Beano than in that paper which is read only by GROLIIES (Guardian Readers Of Limited Intelligence In Ethnic Skirts)! Sounds just your kind of rag.

Regarding landmines, perhaps some Argentine scrap metal merchants could come and dig them up for recycling; on the other hand best not, they might break a nail!
10 Marcos Alejandro (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 01:07 am Report abuse
Beef, The Guardian is more focused in international news and is one of the most read English-language news site in the world, inform yourself.
11 livin' in argentina (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 01:11 am Report abuse
Argentina should be made to pay to disarm them. Don't bother to send any “experts” though.
Real “heroes” setting them up eh? What bravery. I can see why the rest of South America adore you.
12 Marcos Alejandro (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 01:40 am Report abuse
@11 Argentina offered to remove all the mines in the past, inform yourself.
I can see why the rest of the world adore Britain as well.
13 Redhoyt (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 02:05 am Report abuse
MoreCrap - the last time there were a lot of Argies on the Islands it caused trouble !

Or didn't you notice ?
14 geoff (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 03:51 am Report abuse
The problem with removing the mines is that no one knows precisely where they all are!! Professional armies make detailed maps when laying these hideous weapons so that they can be located and removed after the conflict is over-terrorists and rabble do not.
15 livin' in argentina (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 04:00 am Report abuse
“Argentina offered to remove all the mines in the past, inform yourself”.

I'm informing you to read the sentence S-L-O-W-L-E-Y. Argentina should be made to PAY for removal. NOT bring a load of Muppets on day release to disarm them.
OMG that would be funny to watch. The professionals eh?
How many Argentine bomb disposal expert's would it take to disarm a mine?

“I can see why the rest of the world adore Britain as well”.

Good. your learning. Have you left Argentina?
16 Redhoyt (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 06:23 am Report abuse
I doubt that they let him out of the institution, let alone the country !
17 JuanStanic (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 07:55 am Report abuse
How dare you think that the British government would allow Argentina to clear the mines? It would be practically an scandal for them. They can't loose such an image battle
18 Beef (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 08:11 am Report abuse
Marcos - considering the number of non UK students enrolling at UK universities this year then it does appear that the world does adore the UK. Plenty of Argentine students with the cash are deciding to leave Argentina and take their money with them. Perhaps it is clearer to see why many educated Argentine youth want to get out as quickly as possible?
19 Monty69 (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 08:27 am Report abuse
Quite apart from the sovereignty implications, it really wouldn't be practical for Argentines to do it. The teams from Zimbabwe live as part of the community, especially working in Camp. How would that work for Argentines in a place where some landowners wouldn't allow Argentines on their land? I wouldn't give much for their chances of getting served in the stores or clubs either. This would be the posting from hell for anyone from Argentina- you couldn't ask anyone to do it.

Of course you could pay some money towards the costs but that isn't going to happen is it? You only want to use it for propaganda purposes so you can say you are clearing the mines from 'your territory'. I predicated that was the case and I was right. Poor old Think- you must despair of your own people sometimes. We expect the worst from them and they never fail to disappoint.
20 ChrisR (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 02:53 pm Report abuse
I think there is a much bigger problem in letting Argies demine anything on the Falklands.

WHO in their right mind would trust the pratts to do the job correctly AND that is without the possibility that they would deliberately leave a few mines in place to kill the despised pirats (sic).
21 zethe (#) Dec 09th, 2011 - 07:57 pm Report abuse
“Beef, The Guardian is more focused in international news and is one of the most read English-language news site in the world, inform yourself.”

Inform YOURSELF. It's not.
22 Redhoyt (#) Dec 11th, 2011 - 06:30 am Report abuse
The guardian has an internet audience - in Britain it's a minor newspaper !
23 Papamoa (#) Dec 11th, 2011 - 03:47 pm Report abuse
The argentine abuse of its own people is a clear indicator of how it would carry out the ethnic cleansing of the Falklanders, this will not be allowed to happen! and Britain will do whatever it takes to allow the free liberty enjoyed on the Islands so the Falklands can decide there own future.
Long Live the Falklands.
24 SamSalzman (#) Dec 13th, 2011 - 06:19 pm Report abuse
Just leave them there. They were put there to prevent a landing and I am sure that even today they work just as well on Argentines as on British.
25 JuanStanic (#) Dec 13th, 2011 - 10:47 pm Report abuse
@23 Papamoa

And how it's than we have one of the best living standards in Latin America?
Besides, I have been to Europe, and many people in the country(except for the North) don't have nothing to envy to you.

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