Massive security operation for G-8 summit

 

With a five-mile ring of steel, 10,000 police on standby, watchtowers and a no-fly zone, Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland, is the centre of a sophisticated G-8 security operation to protect the world's most powerful men.

Chief Constable John Vine of Tayside Police has spent 18 months planning for the arrival on Wednesday of leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised nations in this picturesque corner of rural Scotland.

His team is braced for hundreds of anarchists and anti-globalisation protesters who intend to disrupt the three-day summit - and the possibility of a terrorist strike.

Operation Sorbus - named after the berry of the rowan tree that forklore says wards off evil spirits - includes a six-foot-high steel mesh fence around the perimeter of the exclusive Gleneagles hotel and country club, running through rolling farmland in the Perthshire countryside. It is guarded by a series of watchtowers and a network of surveillance cameras.

As well as a formidable obstacle, the fence is also a clear demarcation line; protesters who attempt to cross it face immediate arrest, Tayside police say.

Inside the perimeter, where the leaders of Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Canada, Japan and Italy will meet from Wednesday to Friday, are further extensive security measures, which police officials declined to describe.

About 10,000 officers drafted from across the United Kingdom are available to deal with G-8 protesters - from peaceful environmental and anti-poverty campaigners to hardcore anarchists. Some 3,000 police are assigned to Gleneagles itself.

An airship will act as a spy in the sky and beam back video footage to officers on the ground. Two helicopters also will patrol the skies.

Police have set up four checkpoints on rural roads that pass close to the hotel's grounds and championship golf courses. Only delegates, media and local residents issued with accreditation will be allowed to pass.

Gasoline stations across central Scotland have been banned from selling fuel in portable containers until the summit ends.