HIGH-SECURITY sites in Wales are being laid open to terrorist attack by web programmes like Google Earth, military experts have warned.
Detailed photos and the coordinates of potential targets including Barry's RAF St Athan, arms manufacturers BAE Systems in Usk and civilian sites like Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, are just a click of the mouse away.
And using Microsoft's similar Virtual Earth programme, close-up satellite snaps of Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey and oil refineries in Milford Haven can be accessed easily.
Google Earth has blotted out British military bases in Iraq at the request of the Government. Sensitive installations such as the Trident nuclear submarine pens in Faslane, Scotland, and the eavesdropping base at GCHQ Cheltenham have also been obscured. But the same can't be said for Welsh sites.
Clwyd West MP David Jones is a member of the Conservative Homelands Security Team.
He said: "The people who operate these sites have to bear in mind they have a responsibility to people including British troops. You do wonder whether something should be done to stop it.
"Terrorists are not mugs. Al-Qaeda regularly use the net to disseminate broadcasts by Bin Laden and other senior figures, so they will be certainly aware of the existence of sites such as Google Earth.
"It enables them to carry out satellite reconnaissance of potential targets free of charge. Google should cover up sensitive information that compromises security and gives comfort to terrorists.
"We live in a world where there are a lot of dangerous people who will use it for the purposes of killing people. This has to be taken into account."
In the aftermath of September 11, MI5 drew up a list of 350 potential targets that included oil refineries, defence companies and military barracks.
Mr Jones said: "I have no doubt people like MI5 will be taking an interest."
Former SAS man Barry Davies is helping develop software to prevent attacks on potential terror targets with Cardiff military equipment suppliers BCB International.
Mr Davies, author of Joining the SAS, said: "It's irresponsible. Terrorists know about these things and the information could be used to plan an operation. But what can you do? Google Earth is part of a global online community and is now worth a lot of money.
"It's a problem we're going to have to live with. And if you buy the professional version of Google Earth, the images are even higher resolution."
The Ministry of Defence are unable to prevent satellite photos being taken, especially by foreign nations. They agreed the internet was impossible to police and said blurring property out could imply they had something worth hiding there.
A spokesman said: "All we can do is take proactive steps to protect highly sensitive equipment by putting it away in hangars.
"Anywhere with satellite technology, be that the US, Russia, China or wherever, has the capability to go anywhere and take satellite photos, and those can go anywhere on the net and there is nothing we can do.
"It's a bit like having four stable doors. You can close one but three are, unfortunately, always going to be open.
"One could say there is potentially an issue because these sites show how open we are in terms of sensitive military hardware or buildings."
He said dummy hardware could be left visible to confuse an enemy harbouring sinister plans.
A Google spokeswoman said: "All the information on Google Earth about military bases is available from other sources. With many of these sites it is possible to drive by them and many things can be seen by people just going about their business.
"We do not believe Google Earth represents a security risk. The majority of people using Google Earth do so to look at things going on in the environment.
"But if anyone has concerns or worries we would be happy to hear from them."
A BAE spokeswoman refused to talk about Google Earth saying she was unable to comment on security issues.