MoD announces major selling off of defence land, including the Royal Marine Base at RMB Chivenor

The Government is looking to close and sell off the Royal Marines Base at Chivenor in 11 years.

In a Ministry of Defence review released today (Monday) it says it will save £3billion by 2040 by selling off 91 MoD sites across the UK.

The Better Defence Estate strategy refers to 'Chivenor airfield and barracks' and says it is looking at disposal by 2027.

It is currently used by 24 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers and the Commando Logistics Regiment, which the document says would be 'consolidated' in the Plymouth and Torpoint area plus HM Naval Base Devonport and HMS Raleigh 'subject to further work'.

The Government says it is the most significant change to defence land since the Second World War, featuring around a third of MoD sites.

It was announced today by defence secretary Michael Fallon, who said that more than £4bn will be 'invested to create a better defence estate for the UK's armed forces and their families'.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones today called for assurances from Mr Fallon that the region's economy would be supported when the Marines withdraw.

In response to questions from Mr Heaton-Jones, Mr Fallon confirmed the Royal Marines themselves had requested the move as part of a consolidation of various locations to a single base at Devonport.

But he agreed to visit Chivenor to meet the base commander, the leader of North Devon District Council and representatives of the business community to discuss support for the local economy and future use of the site.

Mr Heaton-Jones said: "I expressed concern on behalf of North Devon about this move.

"I wanted to seek assurances that, if the move goes ahead, every effort will be made to ensure that North Devon's local economy is supported. It's also vital that the community has a say in the future use of that land.

"The Royal Marines have requested this move themselves, but I want to be sure that the service personnel and their families will be given every possible support.

"The military threats we face are constantly changing, and so it would be wrong to keep our defences exactly as they are. Indeed, in 2009 the Fremington Army Camp was closed under a similar review, so North Devon has seen this sort of change before.

"However there is a long and proud link between North Devon and Chivenor. That's why I expressed our concern, and made clear that our community needs to be reassured as this move takes shape over the next 11 years."

Deputy mayor of Barnstaple Ian Roome said: "As a former serviceman who was based at Chivenor I am very saddened to hear the current government are planning to close RMB Chivenor within the next 10 years.

"I really do question the defence secretary Michael Fallon on how he as come to this conclusion. It will be a substantial blow to the North Devon community both economically and socially.

"I have to question this government's defence strategy and will it properly resource our forces to be fit for the future at a time when we need them most. This decision will leave our area with no full time military contingent.

"I urge the defence secretary to reconsider these proposals and ask him to make sure the government provides adequate funding so that RMB Chivenor can remain part of the North Devon community."