Ministry of Defence Constructions

Even as early as 1957, the NTS was careful to restrict modern developments to areas least likely to affect underlying archaeological deposits or to compromise historic structures. The present Base, built in 1969, lies in glebe land (associated with the church) which is shown on 19th-century maps as being under cultivation, and no significant structures are thought to have been removed in order to accommodate the new buildings. Trial excavations in 1987-88 showed that some areas had been badly disturbed during the construction, but also showed little evidence that earlier deposits had been present in this arable area.

Apart from the main Base, several infrastructure features have had an impact on the landscape, but all are removable – albeit at considerable effort in some cases:

Road – Single-track concrete road leading from the Base in Village Bay to the radar facilities on top of Mullach Sgar and Mullach Mor, likely to remain as a scar for several decades if removed;

Helicopter/landing craft landing place – Large concreted area near the beach;

Fuel tanks – Near the beach, part-concealed;

Water tank – The main freshwater reservoir for the island, painted green to blend in; due to be removed and relocated underground;

Radar masts and associated equipment buildings – Largely removable, but on barren hilltops where vegetation would be very slow to recolonise bare areas;

Gabion baskets – Coastal defences which themselves promote erosion at the edges and may lead to major collapse if removed; subject to current coastal erosion management study;

Ablutions block – Beside Factor’s House, used for shower, washing and toilet facilities for Work Parties and campers. One of the last remaining structures from the early phase of the Base, it is easily removable;

Quarry – Beside the road, half-way up the hill, it has potential for land fill but would be very difficult to fully reinstate.

Measures are being put in place, where deemed appropriate, to allow for the removal of all or part of the installation at the end of the MoD lease. Prior to removal all such features will be carefully recorded at an appropriate level of detail. In the meantime, the MoD and NTS are working to remove redundant structures and minimise the visual impact of those still required.