North Devon had some hope after claims no decision had been made, but the latest comments suggest the closure of RMB Chivenor will still happen

Government plans to close the Royal Marines base at Chivenor appear to still be on course despite local hopes of a possible reprieve.

During defence questions in the House of Commons, Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster told MPs the intent was still to close Chivenor in less than 10 years time.

It appears to contradict former Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon, who said during a visit to RMB Chivenor last March that no final decision had been made.

Mr Lancaster told MPs during his previous role he was responsible for the Better Defence Estate strategy launched in November 2016 that sought to save £3billion by 2040 by selling off 91 Ministry of Defence sites across the UK.

Mr Lancaster said: “I can confirm that it remains the intention to dispose of the Royal Citadel and Stonehouse in 2024 and Chivenor in 2027, and to provide units for the Royal Marines in either Plymouth or Torpoint.

“I cannot confirm exactly what form that will take at this stage, as further work is required, but I will update the House in due course.”

Former defence scretary Sir Michael Fallon said no decision had been made during his visit to RMB Chivenor in March 2017. Picture: Matt SmartFormer defence scretary Sir Michael Fallon said no decision had been made during his visit to RMB Chivenor in March 2017. Picture: Matt Smart

During his 2017 visit to meet serving personall of 24 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers and the Commando Logistics Recruitment from RMB Chivenor, Sir Michael Fallon also met with members of North Devon Council and local stakeholders to discuss the impact of the closure on North Devon.

He said afterwards: “There is no final decision. The overall intent is to close some of the smaller Royal Marine bases and cluster all the Royal Marine units together in the Plymouth Devonport area. That’s the overall intent.

“We now have to work through the detail and see exactly what it would cost to move the particular units, so that’s work that will now go on for the next year and a bit.”

In a statement, a MoD spokesman told the Gazette the Defence Infrastructure Organisation would work closely with the local authority and other parties to consider the best possible future use for Chivenor.

They added: “Closing defence establishments can often provide new opportunities for local re-use and development.

“A key purpose of this announcement is to give as much clarity and certainty to the MoD’s long term intent for certain sites.

“This will give the local authorities the time to plan and explore ways in which a vacated site could be used, including for housing or commercial use.”