Midlothian Council snubs bomb shelter query

Midlothian House, Buccleuch St Dalkeith, home of Midlothian Council.
Midlothian House, Buccleuch St Dalkeith, home of Midlothian Council.

A bid to find out how many public nuclear bomb shelters exist in Scotland sparked security concerns from Midlothian Council who refused to answer.

The local authority ruled the question a matter of national security and said it was not in the public interest to say how many shelters were available to them. And they argued that it would expose their strengths and weaknesses.

A Freedom of Information request to all 32 Scottish local authorities asked how many shelters there are in their areas. But while 23 councils responded that they either had no shelters or no records of any, Midlothian Council decided it could not answer in the defence of public safety.

Responding to the question, they said: “The release of this information is refused on the grounds of exemption contained in section 31 of FOISA – National Security and Defence. The information would enable comparisons of strengths and weakness with other areas.”

The officer who made the decision went on to say that they had also carried out a public interest test adding: “I am satisfied that the public interest in safeguarding public safety and counter terrorism matters outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

The question posed to the councils on the What Do They Know website was “With increased geopolitical tensions in the world between the west and major superpowers such as Russia and China, how many bomb shelters (including nuclear bomb shelters) are available in the Orkney Islands for the public to take shelter in?”

Only one other local authority declined to answer, with Western Isles Council believing it was a question for Police Scotland to respond to not them.

Seven other councils have so far not provided information.