24. Kyle of Lochalsh, Wester Ross. (ND 765 270)
The British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre (BUTEC) is operated
on behalf of the Royal Navy and the Ministry of Defence by QinetiQ,
the defence contractor created through privatisation of parts of
the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 2001.
The centre at the Kyle of Lochalsh is the main jetty and storage
facility for the testing ranges around Skye such as in the Inner
Sound with facilities at Applecross and the Sounds of Raasay.
BUTEC is used for torpedo and sonar trials. (See Appendix D on submarine
In November 2002, QinetiQ was criticised for testing a high-powered,
low frequency sonar that can cause internal bleeding and disorientation
to whales, from the Kyle of Lochalsh. US courts had banned the low
frequency sonar following the deaths of a number of whales after
American and NATO exercises using the equipment. Scottish Natural
Heritage was also unaware that the tests were being carried out.
An application to build an explosives factory at the site was granted
planning permission in October 2002.
The QinetiQ organisation is involved in many areas of marine technology,
some of which may be tested at BUTEC. The sonar ranges operated
by BUTEC may be the testing sites for new developments and technology
in sonar operations. To meet legislation that comes into force in
July 2004 regarding port and harbour security, QinetiQ has developed
a sonar system called Cerberus that monitors ship approaches to
harbours. Cerberus was developed to prevent and suppress acts of
terrorism against shipping, like the attack in 2002 on a French
oil tanker, the Limburg, in Yemen.