RAF Lyneham gets its marching orders

Here is the latest local news from the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald on the future of RAF Lyneham. Despite efforts to keep it open, it does look like we will be having Reunions from 2012/3 at Brize Norton. The positive view is that we will still be having Reunions.

RAF Lyneham Main Gate

RAF Lyneham Main Gate









By reporter Alana Lewis  »

After six years of uncertainty and campaigns to save RAF Lyneham it has been announced that the air base will close permanently in 2012.

An internal MoD letter passed to North Wiltshire MP James Gray said plans drawn up under Project Belvedere, a review of re-housing helicopters from the three armed forces, has fallen through.

The base is now expected to close on December 31, 2012, with operations and personnel being moved to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire the previous year.

Mr Gray, who has been campaigning since 2003 to secure the future of the base, said he was devastated.

“The fact that ministers did not have the courage to make this announcement to Parliament speaks for itself,” he said.

The news would come as a great blow to the RAF personnel, the 750 civilians employed at the base and many hundreds of others in his constituency who owe their livelihoods in one way or another to the base, he said.

Mr Gray has pledged to reverse the closure or to find an alternative use, probably agricultural or leisure, for the 1,164 acres.

“I will be leaving no stone unturned but whether or not I will be successful I do not know,” he said.

“It would be quite wrong if I turned around and said it could be saved, but I will try to find an alternative use.

“We must try to take what is a tragedy for the area and turn it into something positive.”

RAF Lyneham was one of the front runners to house helicopters and personnel under Joint Helicopter Command.

But the aging accommodation and service buildings needed £2 million to keep them up to standard just in case the site was chosen.

Residents have called for a quick decision on the future to avoid the closure having a devastating impact. Parish councillor Tim Webb, 40, said: “We do not want years of not knowing what’s happening.”

His wife Maria, 38, said: “Out of the 27 children in my son’s class, the families of 22 work at the base.”

Nearly 17,000 people signed a Gazette petition to save the base, which Wiltshire Council estimates contributes £25 million a year to the economy.

District councillor Allison Bucknell, who took part in the campaign, said: “Many people round here gave their life and soul to the RAF. In the short term there will be a lot of uncertainty.”

Civil contractor and web designer of Lyneham Village online Andy Humm said: “This will have a terrible impact – it is worrying for all of us. It is still not clear that Brize Norton will be able to support everyone.

“I do not think this has been thought through.”

In a written statement to Parliament, defence minister Adam Ingram said the closure will result in a reduction of around 1,780 service and 360 MoD civilian posts.


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