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Britain’s bunkers offer little chance of survival after a nuclear attack

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/02/britains-bunkers-offer-little-chance-of-survival-after-a-nuclear-attack 2 Dec 22 David Saunders and Mark Newbury write that, with no bunker provision for civilians, most of us won’t have access – and those who do should not expect to live long.

The owner of the Kelvedon Hatch bunker suggests that those selected for his shelter might survive for 10 to 20 years in it while avoiding nuclear fallout (‘When you hear the four-minute warning’ … Whatever happened to Britain’s nuclear bunkers?, 24 November). This is, sadly, an unrealistic expectation if one simply looks at the likely impact on infrastructure of even a limited nuclear attack on the UK, based on exercises and analysis conducted during the cold war.

It was accepted 50 years ago that nobody above ground is likely to be left fit or alive to generate power or supply clean water. Food cannot be grown in a radioactive environment and, in the period preceding any outbreak of war, there will be diminished food stocks due to panic buying or rationing.

The scenarios modelled by civil defence analysts even during the 1980s Pershing and cruise missile deployment suggested that survival in Britain’s local government bunkers would be short lived. There was never any provision in the UK for sheltering the civilian population in the event of a nuclear conflict and Britain’s civil defence posture was abandoned as a posture after the 1960s.

While in neutral Sweden and Switzerland housebuilding rules made provision to protect the civil population, in Britain the idea of being able to survive to the same extent as in, say, the blitz in the second world war is merely a pious hope.

Nice to know that, according to the civil defence historian Nathan Hazlehurst, “Key members of central government, the military and royal family will have access to bunkers, along with those staff needed to run the country post-attack.” The rest of us will (I assume) have to make do with an updated version of the much-derided Protect and Survive booklet.

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December 2, 2022 - Posted by | UK, weapons and war

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