A defence minister has offered hope for RMB Chivenor, saying the base will ‘continue to have a role to play’ in the future.

Tobias Ellwood said RMB Chivenor would have an important role to play. Picture: Parliament TVTobias Ellwood said RMB Chivenor would have an important role to play. Picture: Parliament TV

Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence said the Government recognised the benefits of retaining a military presence at Chivenor as he was quizzed in a parliamentary debate today (Wednesday) on the closure of the base.

It was announced in 2016 that Chivenor, currently used by 24 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers and the Commando Logistics Regiment, would close by 2027.

The debate was moved by North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones, who said it was time to ‘reverse the closure decision’ and ‘end the uncertainty’ about the future of the base.

Speaking at the debate, Mr Ellwood said Chivenor was ‘an important asset’ to Britain.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones. Picture: Parliament TVNorth Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones. Picture: Parliament TV

In his speech to Westminster Hall, he said: “With regard to RMB Chivenor, we recognise the benefits of retaining a royal marine presence at Chivenor.

“I make it very, very clear that Chivenor will continue to have a role to play but I invite my friend to attend the next oral statement on the MOD’s defence estate plans which will be coming round the corner very soon.

“I know he wants answers, as does the honourable gentleman for Plymouth and no doubt the chair of the defence select committee too, but I ask them to appreciate the process that we must go through in the MOD as part of the wider rationalisation of over 90 sites to make sure that we are able to move assets around the country knowing which are best to continue and which are best to close.

“I hope he can read between the lines as to what I’m saying but I can provide no more details today.”

Mr Heaton-Jones had laid out the case for retaining the marine base, which has been used by the military since the 1940s.

He heaped praise on the campaigns of businesses, residents, economic groups and councils including Barnstaple, Braunton and Heanton Punchardon, for ‘mobilising’ to try and reverse the closure decision.

Speaking in Parliament, he said: “The North Devon community and I feel that it is time to put an end to this uncertainty.

“The strength of feeling has not gone away in the long period of time since the original announcement; if anything, it has increased.

“The world is becoming a less certain place. There are challenges to the foundations that have kept the peace, by and large, in the post-war period. Rivals are pushing us further.

“In such a climate, the Royal Marines are vital. Their flexibility and expertise is invaluable and must be preserved.”