Can UXO still pose a risk to construction projects in Coventry?
The primary potential risk from UXO in Coventry is from items of German air-delivered ordnance, which failed to function as designed. Approximately 10% of munitions deployed during WWII failed to detonate, and whilst efforts were made during, and after the war to locate and make UXBs safe, not all items were discovered. This is evidenced by the regular, on-going discoveries of UXO during construction-related intrusive ground works across the UK – not just in Coventry.
Occasionally items of British explosive ordnance are also encountered within inner city areas, including Coventry. In Coventry’s case, the city was defended by a ring of static AA defences as well as a number of mobile AA batteries that rotated around parks and open areas of the city to avoid being targeted.
These AA batteries would have been in constant action during these raids, and as such a volume of AA shells would have been fired over Coventry’s skies, some of which may not have functioned as intended.
I am about to start a project in Coventry, what should I do?
Developers and ground workers should consider this potential before intrusive works are planned, through either a Preliminary UXO Risk Assessment or Detailed UXO Risk Assessment. This is the first stage in our UXO risk mitigation strategy and should be undertaken as early in a project lifecycle as possible in accordance with CIRIA C681 guidelines
It is important that where a viable risk is identified, it is effectively and appropriately mitigated to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). However, it is equally important that UXO risk mitigation measures are not implemented when they are not needed.
While there is certainly potential to encounter UXO during construction projects in Coventry, it does not mean that UXO will pose a risk to all projects. Just because a site is located in Coventry does not mean there is automatically a ‘high’ risk of encountering UXO. It really does depend on the specific location of the site being developed.
A well-researched UXO Risk Assessment will take into account location specific factors – was the actual site footprint affected by bombing, what damage was sustained, what was the site used for, how much would it have been accessed, what were the ground conditions present etc.
It should also consider what has happened post-war – how much development has occurred, to what depths have excavations taken place and so on. This will allow an assessment of the likelihood that UXO could have fallen on site, gone unnoticed and potentially still remain in situ.
Recent UXO discoveries in Coventry
Since the war, many items of UXO have been discovered across multiple cities within the UK, with Coventry no exception. Below are some examples of recent UXO incidents or discoveries that have been reported inn national or local press.
A suspected WWII bomb was detonated in a controlled explosion after it was discovered in woodland in Warwickshire, May 2023 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-65657082
The local bomb squad rushed to a residential street in Coventry after reports of an unexploded WWII shell found by a magnet fisherman, August 2022 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/bomb-squad-called-busy-street-24718601
West Midlands Police were called after a suspected WWII shell was found in the canal off Leicester Causeway, Coventry, June 2022 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/controlled-explosion-coventry-park-bomb-24207022
Coventry family discover WWII 1KG Incendiary bomb in back garden after dismantling shed, March 2021 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/coventry-family-discover-ww2-bomb-20112015
A WWII shell was discovered at a block of flats in Coventry, July 2018 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/bomb-squad-coventry-ww2-shell-14922388
An unexploded 1,000 kg WWII bomb was detonated in a controlled explosion after it was first discovered on a building site in Paradise Street, September 2015 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/huge-world-war-two-bomb-10112097
Shocked builders dug up an unexploded WWII Incendiary bomb as they were working on a family’s new conservatory, July 2013 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/workmen-whack-unexploded-wwii-bomb-4861877
UXO incidents reported in Coventry between 2001 and 2015 – https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/blitz-city-11-word-war-10110424