The Secretary of State for Defence stopped off at RMB Chivenor on the day it was announced the base would be retained.

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson visited RMB Chivenor on Thursday. Picture: Matt SmartSecretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson visited RMB Chivenor on Thursday. Picture: Matt Smart

Gavin Williamson addressed personnel at the base on Thursday with North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones to confirm the home of Commando Logistic Regiment and 24 Commando Royal Engineers would be kept open.

Mr Williamson also hinted the base could even expand from its current form to take in more personnel in the future.

The announcement came as the Ministry of Defence updated its Better Defence Estate strategy, setting out new information for 33 military sites across the UK.

Chivenor is one of five bases across the UK to be retained after an initial decision to close. The announcement was accompanied by confirmation that £1.5billion is to be invested in the UK’s defence estate over the next five years.

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson addresses personnel at RMB Chivenor with North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones. Picture: Matt SmartSecretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson addresses personnel at RMB Chivenor with North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones. Picture: Matt Smart

Mr Williamson said: “We’re very excited and very confident about what we can be doing here in the future.

“We see this as a great opportunity to be bringing more of our service personnel, taking the best use of what is a stunning and amazing location where more of our service personnel can potentially train and use the benefits of Chivenor.

“I have no doubt that will mean more investment in the base to make sure it’s the very best we can provide for our service men and women.”

Mr Williamson said the decision to keep the base open was one that was finalised ‘in the last few days’.

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson visited RMB Chivenor on Thursday. Picture: Matt SmartSecretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson visited RMB Chivenor on Thursday. Picture: Matt Smart

He also said the benefits of the base and the role it could play had been highlighted consistently by Mr Heaton-Jones.

He added: “What we’ve done is we’ve looked at what our Royal Marines need for the future, how we make sure they have the very best training facilities and the ability to develop that force and make sure they have everything that they need.

“Peter Heaton-Jones has consistently made a strong argument as to why we should be keeping Chivenor, the value this brings to our Royal Marines and having looked at it, having looked at the details, looked at what we want in the future, it became apparent to me we need to be keeping Chivenor open.”

Mr Heaton-Jones thanked Mr Williamson for listening to the ‘loud and clear voices from across North Devon’.

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson with Councillor Andrea Davis, North Devon Countil leader Des Brailey, Mayor of Barnstaple Ian Roome and North Devon MP Peter-Heaton Jones.Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson with Councillor Andrea Davis, North Devon Countil leader Des Brailey, Mayor of Barnstaple Ian Roome and North Devon MP Peter-Heaton Jones.

He said: “Two and a quarter years ago we heard there were plans to close this base, the community was as one that we thought that wasn’t the right thing to do.

“I’ve taken the opportunity as have many others across the community to put that message to you loud and clear.

“I’m delighted that it’s been heard, not only for the personnel and their families at this base, but for the wider North Devon community and the economy.”

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson addresses personnel at RMB Chivenor with North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones. Picture: Matt SmartSecretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson addresses personnel at RMB Chivenor with North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones. Picture: Matt Smart

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson and North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones address personnel at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Matt SmartSecretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson and North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones address personnel at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Matt Smart

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones addressed personnel at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Matt SmartNorth Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones addressed personnel at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Matt Smart

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson visited RMB Chivenor on Thursday. Picture: Matt SmartSecretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson visited RMB Chivenor on Thursday. Picture: Matt Smart