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The British Army has used Dartmoor National Park for training exercises since 1800. Small arms, mortars, smoke and illumination artillery projectiles are still used on Dartmoor today. The current lease of the land, from the Duchy of Cornwall, expires in 2053.

Only 1% of the Dartmoor peatlands are left intact, according to research by the University of Exeter. Drainage, erosion, cutting and drying out has caused significant damage, increasing flood risks, releasing greenhouse gases, and depositing silt in the local water supply. Following research trials, our client proposed an evidence-based solution of blocking runoff channels and erosion gullies, reprofiling cuttings and rewetting the peat. Brimstone was contracted to manage the inherent UXO risk of working in an active military firing range.  

We deployed our UXO unmanned aerial vehicle – JUNO – to survey, identify, and locate buried UXO. JUNO is a modified off the shelf UAV. Resistant to rain, wind and hot climates, JUNO is equipped to deliver surveying and detection solutions in tough to access environments. Carrying payloads of up to 8kg, JUNO is a modular platform for sensors, detectors and effectors. Applications include magnetometry, radiation detection, photogrammetry and LiDAR. 

Dartmoor uxo survey
Our uav, juno was deployed to survey, identify, and locate buried uxo

Undertaking the UXO survey

Equipped with triaxial fluxgates with a 200mhz sampling rate to minimise noise and discern targets accurately. The UAV can identify targets up to 4m below the ground level, with a max speed of 50mph, a climb rate of 2 metres per second, and can operate in wet and dry conditions. The UAV is programmed to autonomously follow predetermined waypoints and uses lasers to automatically adjust its altitude to the undulations of the environment.  

Brimstone met the complexity of the projects with guile; managing the bird nesting seasons, challenging access and egress, and overcoming the general difficulties of working in a remote and scientifically sensitive area, in all weathers. Whilst the project had its complications, we successfully mitigated the UXO threat throughout the duration of the works.  

Several items of ordnance were safely recovered from the worksite without incident, including projectiles, mortars and small arms ammunition. Through data analysis, we identified potential UXO targets and operated a mark and avoid strategy to help keep works on track.

Supporting the environmental recovery at Dartmoor

Through the combined efforts of South West Water, the University of Exeter, the Duchy of Cornwall and Brimstone, Dartmoor is on track for peatland recovery, improving biodiversity, reducing greenhouse emissions and improving the health of local water supply. 

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