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9. Applecross, Wester Ross. (NG 714 444)

Located in the Inner Sound to the east of the Isle of Skye, the British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre (BUTEC) was designated in the 1970s as a range for testing torpedoes and other equipment such as sonar. It 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 testing range is administered by BUTEC at the Kyle of Lochalsh[24]. The control centre for the torpedo range at Rhu-na-Lachan in Applecross is connected to the hydrophones on the range via underwater cable. The hydrophones are used to listen to the sound characteristics of submarines based at Faslane[74] and at Devonport in Plymouth and also surface ships. The facility is often a bane to local fisherman as they are frequently restricted from fishing in the area when tests are being carried out and from areas where their nets may snag underwater cables. The movement of both the vessels on trials and support craft is controlled by radio from the control centre. Controversy also struck in 2002 when a high-powered sonar device was tested on the range, which was banned in the USA having been blamed for mass-deaths of whales and dolphins. For more information about QinetiQ see Appendix B.

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