A report of an explosion near Catterick army garrison causing the A1 in North Yorkshire to be closed by police for most of the day remains a mystery as the motorway reopend.
A ten mile stretch of the road between junction 51 and junction 56 had been shut down by North Yorkshire police for most of the day after an explosion was heard in the early hours of this morning.
The police said the motorway closure, stopping traffic in both directions and including both slip roads to Catterick, was a precautionary measure while they conducted an investigation.
After extensive searches involving the police, experts from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, explosive detection dogs, National Police Air Service and military search personnel, no evidence of an explosion was found.
The area is home to Britain’s largest army garrison with more than 13,000 army personnel and civilians in the area and the stretch of road shutdown is close to Marne Barracks.
In North Yorkshire police’s latest update, it said:
We appreciate that members of the public will ask why the road had to be shut for so long. In view of the location of the suspected explosion, the source of the information, the current threat to UK security and a report a few hours earlier of a vehicle seen in suspicious circumstances outside the barracks, we were not prepared to take any chances with people's safety and had to carry out a very extensive and thorough investigation.
Officers have worked throughout the night and day to identify and locate the driver of the vehicle and we are now satisfied that he was not connected to the reported explosion and we have now eliminated him from our enquiries. We thank the driver of the vehicle for his patience and cooperation. We have also ruled out any link to terrorism.
I again extend our thanks to members of the public who were caught up in the congestion for their patience and understanding. Their safety was our prime concern.
We may never find out what the source of the explosion was, however, following the search and investigation I am now satisfied that there is no threat to members of the public. A number of possibilities have been looked into, however, there is no information or evidence to say this reported explosion was a criminal or deliberate act.
Police revealed the report of an explosion came from a source within Marne Barracks and said another eight members of the public came forward to say they heard an explosion too.
While searching for signs of the explosion the army's bomb disposal unit were called in after the discovery of "ageing detonators" near the perimeter fence of the barracks and the A1, however they were not the source of the explosion.
The road was expected to reopen at around 3pm, however traffic was only allowed to return to the road at around 5.30pm.
The A1 is the main route to and from Newcastle and Darlington further north. Football fans travelling south to see Newcastle United play West Ham in London today and Chelsea supporters heading north for the match against Sunderland have been affected by the delays.