The Defence Secretary has been presented with almost 5,000 letters from North Devonians calling for RMB Chivenor to be saved.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones has hailed a 'fantastic response' after he wrote to thousands of households around Barnstaple and Braunton.

He called on people to write to the Ministry of Defence demanding a reversal of the decision to close the base, first announced in November 2016.

Mr Heaton-Jones said: “The response was huge, which just shows the strength of community feeling on this issue. We were asking people to post back a hard copy letter, not just click a button to sign an electronic petition.

“Normally for this sort of thing you'd expect a pretty low response rate, but frankly we were overwhelmed.

“I told the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, that it's clear North Devon feels as strongly as ever that the decision to close Chivenor was wrong and must be reversed.

“He committed to take this into account before announcing a final decision. I pressed him to end the uncertainty as soon as possible for the sake of our armed forces families and the wider North Devon economy.

“I will keep taking positive action – raising the issue in Parliament, meeting senior ministers and lobbying hard behind the scenes – until we get the outcome North Devon needs.”

In a statement, Mr Williamson said: “We have committed to update Parliament if our intent to dispose of RMB Chivenor changes. The next statement on the Defence Estate, which is planned for the early part of 2019, will expand in more detail on the future of RMB Chivenor.

“The MoD remains acutely aware of the impact of uncertainty concerning the final decision on our personnel and their families. Briefings by senior Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel have taken place to help reassure all those concerned. However it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”