The decommissioned Ferrybridge Power Station was filled with emergency crews yesterday as they were tested on how they would respond to a terrorist attack.
The site of the former coal-fired power station in West Yorkshire, which closed last year, was chosen for the 12 hour ‘live play exercise’ led by the North East Counter Terrorism Unit.
It was five months in the planning and involved participants from agencies including regional police forces, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
The exercise ended at midnight and the Ferrybridge site, owned by SSE, has now returned to business as usual.
The scenario saw first responders from the emergency services deal with a marauding terrorist firearms attack, similar to the attack in London Bridge which killed eight people, and resolve a siege situation involving a large number of hostages.
Teams were tasked with detaining the suspects, managing the scene, protecting the public and rescuing the wounded.
Counter-terror officials say the exercise was one of a number of national counter terrorism exercises which routinely take place throughout the UK and was not in response to any specific threat or intelligence regarding the Ferrybridge site.
It forms part of the legal obligation of the emergency services and partner agencies to prepare and practice for major incidents under the Civil Contingencies Act.
Detective Superintendent Nik Adams, the Regional Coordinator for Protect and Prepare at the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “Exercises of this scale are a great opportunity for us to test our tactics and ensure that our multi-agency plans are as effective as they can be in managing incidents and keeping the public safe.
“It’s vital we train together for incidents of this nature and learn as much as possible from the range of challenges they present. All partners are fully committed to ensuring we are thoroughly prepared should the worst happen in our area.
“I’d like to stress that this exercise was pre-planned has not been carried out in response to any specific threat or intelligence regarding the site at Ferrybridge.
“The noise from small pockets of exercise activity may have been heard locally. However, we made every effort to keep disruption to a minimum and there was absolutely no risk to the public at any time.
“Neither was there any impact on the front line services of the police or our regional emergency partners, which continued as normal.
“We’re grateful for the patience and cooperation of local people and for the support we’ve received from SSE, which enabled the exercise to go ahead at the Ferrybridge site.
“This was a valuable opportunity to recreate a terrorist attack and we’re really pleased with the swift and professional response to the incident by those taking part.
“Alongside our partners, we will now look to carry out a full debrief of the exercise to ensure we capture any additional learning and incorporate it into our major incident plans.”
Nick Hinde, SSE’s Site Manager at Ferrybridge said: “SSE and Ferrybridge Power Station have always had a close working relationship with the emergency services and are pleased that we were able to help facilitate such an important exercise at the Ferrybridge site.
“We would like to thank everyone involved for the consideration that they showed towards our neighbours in trying to keep disruption to a minimum, and for working so closely with our team at Ferrybridge to ensure that the exercise was carried out successfully and most importantly, safely.”