In the wake of fears the Chivenor closure was done and dusted, North Devon’s MP has insisted it is not a done deal

The closure of RMB Chivenor is not a ‘done deal’ despite fears the decision had already been made.

Last week the Gazette reported how Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster told MPs the intent was still to close Chivenor in less than 10 years time.

But North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones has said this was ‘wrongly interpreted’.

He told the Gazette: “In fact, he merely told the House of Commons that it ‘remains the intention’ to create the Marines super-base in Plymouth.

“This is no more than a re-statement of the position originally announced in November 2016.

“This ‘intended’ course of action is subject to a thorough review before any final decision is made.

“This is why Michael Fallon, the former Defence Secretary, said it was ‘not a done deal’ when I invited him to Chivenor last year.”

Mr Heaton-Jones said just before Christmas he had met with the new Defence Secretary and the new minister, as well as speaking to the Royal Marines’ Commander.

He said: “I received assurances that the review is still ongoing and that no final decision will be made until later this year.

“I have invited the new minister to visit Chivenor while that review is still underway, and he has agreed to do so. I am also having a further meeting with the Defence Secretary shortly.”

Barnstaple county and district councillor Brian Greenslade told the Gazette he had also written to Mr Heaton-Jones and received the same assurances.

Mr Greenslade said North Devon Council had done the scrutiny work and the ‘Government suggestion the site will be of value to North Devon is a big red herring’.

He said there would be flooding issues and there were also concerns a lot of munitions were buried at Chivenor and possibly even an old bomber plane.

He added: “For the economy of North Devon we have to try and fight to keep a military presence at Chivenor and my understanding is the Marines would like to keep Chivenor for operational reasons.

“Losing it is about a £40million hit to the economy and North Devon just can’t afford a hit like that.”