ONE of the region's airports is on a collision course with the government over controversial body scanners that produce a naked image of passengers.

Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) is refusing to give a commitment to install the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), which Gordon Brown has insisted is vital to defeat terrorists.

The prime minister backed the scanners - which allow security staff to detect explosives hidden on a passenger's body - after the Christmas Day attempted bombing on a flight to Detroit.

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Earlier today, the department for transport (Dft) ordered all airports to install them before the summer holiday season, stating they must be in place "in the coming months".

In a statement, Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: "Given the current security threat level, the government believes it essential to start introducing scanners immediately."

But there have been protests that the naked images produced breach privacy rules and even child pornography laws that ban the creation of indecent images of youngsters.

Electromagnetic waves, that can see through clothing, are beamed onto passengers to create a 3D image, seen by a single security officer in a remote location. The images are not stored.

A further consideration is the cost - between £80,000 and £100,000 for each scanner. A major airport would need to have several, to avoid huge delays.

So far, the Dft has only "encouraged" airports to adopt the scanners, although it has the power to order them into line, if necessary.

But a spokesman for Peel Airports Group, which owns DTVA, insisted there was only the "potential" for the scanners to be introduced.

He added: "We are awaiting clarification from the DfT over the potential use of body scanners and so are unable to comment as to whether Durham Tees Valley Airport will see such machines being installed."

Newcastle Airport also said it was awaiting further information from the Dft, but added: "We will work with them on whatever measures are deemed necessary."

The scanners are already in place at Heathrow and Manchester airports and will be installed at Birmingham's by the end of February.

Once they are installed, it will be compulsory for "small proportion" of passengers selected for a scan to take part, or they will not be allowed to fly.

A code of practice has been issued, covering covering privacy, data protection and equality issues, which will "require airports to undertake scanning sensitively," Lord Adonis added.

A Dft spokesman said: "We are encouraging airports to install these scanners, which clearly bring security benefits.

"We are working towards a national implementation programme. When that starts, we will be more prescriptive as to exactly which airports must have them."