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MoD urges wildlife enthusiasts to stay safe at Donna Nook

Posted 11 December 2023

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is urging all wildlife enthusiasts heading to Donna Nook, Lincolnshire, during the seal pupping season, to be vigilant of military debris and unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Above: Seals during pupping season at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire.
Copyright Landmarc 2023

Thousands of grey seals have descended on the beaches of Donna Nook and the nearby coastline to give birth. This amazing spectacle attracts wildlife enthusiasts from across the country who rush across the dunes to witness this natural wonder.

However, areas of Donna Nook and land in proximity is owned by the MoD. As well as being home to historical military activity, the site, including inland and beach locations, is still used for live firing and tactical training activities.

These activities pose a safety risk to the general public. Safety remains the MoD’s top priority, and one risk that the MoD is specifically keen to highlight is disturbing military debris, including unexploded ordnance. Items that are fired, dropped or buried can be inadvertently disturbed by walkers, ramblers and dogs, sometimes with unintended consequences.

As custodians of parts of the land, the MoD is keen to educate the public about these dangers and the simple actions they can take to reduce the risk of injury or worse.

Maj (Retd) Tim Stearne, Training Safety Officer for the East Coast MoD Air Weapons Ranges, said: "The pupping season presents a wonderful opportunity for members of the public to explore unique areas of the Defence Estate at Donna Nook and the surrounding region, which is now part of the Lincolnshire National Nature Reserve.

"Due to its location and its historical and active engagement with military activity, debris does often wash up with the tide, or remains nearby after air-delivered training. Many of these items can be extremely dangerous. If members of the public spot anything we ask them to report it, never touch it. This includes keeping dogs on a lead and paying special attention to what they might pick up off the floor.

"Last year, a member of the public carried a piece of munitions debris from the beach to hand over to my colleagues. What they considered an act of diligence, put their life at risk. Had an item exploded it would have undoubtedly led to a fatality.

"In addition to accidentally disturbing UXO, a small minority deliberately search out and remove ordnance as a hobby, with some even selling what they find to collectors."

Above: UXO washed up on the beach at Donna Nook.
Crown Copyright MoD 2023

Maj (Retd) Stearne added: "We’re really keen to see people out enjoying the pupping season. However, our message is simple. Only access military land when and where it is safe to do so, and with caution at all times, and please read and obey all red flags and signage.

"Deliberate removal of UXO is against the law and dangerous. We encourage anybody considering removing and selling UXO to stop and think about the danger they are putting themselves in."  

Donna Nook is part of the MoD public safety campaign branded ‘Respect the Range’, targeting popular tourist sites in the UK. The Respect the Range campaign reinforces a key safety message about access to military land and training estates.

More information on the campaign can be found at
: Accessing the training estate safely .


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