Battle for RMB Chivenor ‘is not over’
PUBLISHED: 13:22 12 March 2018
The battle to keep RMB Chivenor in North Devon is not over, councillors will be told on Wednesday.
Barnstaple county councillor Brian Greenslade is calling on Devon County Council to actively lobby to keep the valuable military base in North Devon.
In a motion to cabinet Mr Greenslade expressed his concern at a recent Defence Select Committee report called Sunset for the Royal Marines and its suggestion the marines relocate to a new ‘super base’ in the Plymouth area.
A review of Ministry of Defence (MoD) assets has earmarked Chivenor for closure in 2027 but confusion has reigned after former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said ‘no final decision had been made’, while earlier this year Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster told MPs the intent was still to close Chivenor in less than 10 years time.
Following these ‘conflicting signals’, Mr Greenslade is calling for a debate at the cabinet meeting and proposes the council lobby actively to keep Chivenor.
He said: “What is not in dispute, as the report says, closure of RMB Chivenor will have a negative impact on the local economy in the short to medium term.
“There would also be consequences for local public services, particularly schools in the Braunton area. The loss of the marines’ integration in to the local community would be unhelpful.”
At the end of last year, the Devon and Torbay One Public Estate partnership, which includes both Devon County Council and North Devon Council, was awarded £50,000 by the Cabinet Office.
This was to support a ‘visioning exercise’ that would explore possible future economic uses of the Chivenor site in the event the MoD withdraws from the base.
But Mr Greenslade says despite the Government’s claims the Chivenor site would benefit the regeneration of the area, work done by the NDC scrutiny committee casts doubt on this.
He said: “We have found that much of the site is at risk of flooding, environmental concerns such as buried munitions and a WW2 bomber and other issues pollute the land.
“It is very difficult to see firstly what other uses could be made of Chivenor which would successfully replace the negative impact of closure on the economy.
“At the very least it would require very, very significant investment which would make it unattractive to the private sector.”
RMB Chivenor will also be debated at the NDC scrutiny meeting on Thursday.