MI5 unit urges farmers to take terrorist bomb threat seriously

Farmers have been told to tighten security around ammonium nitrate fertiliser stores by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

Speaking at the NFU council meeting on 20 June Graham Smith of NACTSO which reports to MI5, said ammonium nitrate fertiliser, is the explosive favoured by terrorists.

“It is readily available, easy to use and very effective,” said Mr Smith.

A relatively small amount of fertiliser could be devastating, Mr Smith told council members. The Ealing Broadway bomb in 2001 was made with just 25kg of the fertiliser, he added.

Mr Smith encouraged council members to tell their regions about how to keep stores of fertiliser secure and to restrict sales of fertiliser to bona fide customers.

A spokesman for the union said:  “Most farmers would now refuse to sell on any of their own fertiliser, especially in the current climate of heightened security.”

Nevertheless he echoed Mr Smith’s comments and encouraged farmers to be vigilant about the storage of fertiliser because of the very real threat of theft.

“Storing ammonium nitrate in a visible and easily accessible area could result in a visit from a terrorist, or a member of special branch,” he warned.

“The NFU will continue to work closely with NACTSO to ensure that practical advice is available to farmers so that straightforward measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of fertiliser falling into the wrong hands,” he said.

NFU advice on fertiliser storage

Don’t store fertiliser where there is public access.
Don’t leave fertiliser in the field overnight.
Don’t store fertiliser near to, or visible from, the public highway.
Don’t sell fertiliser unless the purchaser is personally known by you to be a bona fide farmer user and who is aware of the need to follow this guidance.
Do record fertiliser deliveries and use.
Do, wherever possible, and with regard to HSE safety guidance, store fertiliser inside a locked building or compound.
Do fully sheet fertiliser when stored outside and regularly check to ensure that the stack has not been tampered with.
Do carry out regular stock checks.
Do report immediately any stock discrepancy or loss to the police.
Do record any manufacturer code numbers from the bags and, if available, the number of the detonation resistance test certificate.