Protect the land. Poison the sea. An environmental history of the Kirkcudbright Training Area and the firing of depleted uranium by the British Army (1982–2013)

Alexander Boyd*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Located in the South West of Scotland, the Kirkcudbright Training Area, alongside the extensive Dundrennan weapons ranges, have been used since the Second World War for the training of the British Army. From the Cold War to today, Dundrennan has been the testing ground for the majority of British armoured vehicles, and the controversial firing of depleted uranium shells which took place from 1982 to 2013. This paper examines the response to the firings from protestors, campaigners and environmental campaign groups, and outlines why Scottish nationalists found common ground with them in opposing the actions of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The response by the MOD, and in particular the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), to accusations of environmental mismanagement of the site are also discussed here. This counter narrative, which stresses the role of military conservation practices (known as ‘khaki conservation’) disseminated through the DIO publication Sanctuary is also scrutinised, noting the tensions between the requirements of the military and its environmental impact.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13133
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number1
Early online date20 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Cite this