Calls for government to release potential RAF Marham relocation cost

Campaigners battling to save RAF Marham from closure last night demanded that any costs of moving the base north of the Border be revealed.

The rallying cry comes after Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said the cost of relocating the Norfolk base's Tornado fleet and facilities to Scotland would be 'very high' .

Mr Harvey made the comments on Thursday during a visit to RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Kinloss, which could both be shut in the defence review.

Speaking last night, South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, whose constituency includes RAF Marham, said: 'Obviously this has not been officially confirmed but it sounds promising and it does give Make it Marham a massive boost.

'It is clear from this that the MOD has grasped the economic arguments for keeping RAF Marham open and I am pleased that it has been acknowledged publicly.

'I have been told it would cost at least �50m to relocate what we have at Marham to Scotland but this is only an estimate.

'I will keep pushing the MOD on this because they must know what the real cost is otherwise why would the minister have said it was very high?'

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The Conservative MP said she will seek further confirmation at Defence Questions on Monday in the House of Commons.

Fellow Make it Marham supporter and former cabinet minister Baroness Gillian Shephard added: 'What the minister has said does back up what we believe locally.

'What he has said can only be seen as being for RAF Marham, not against, and I think this is a positive indicator.

'It is helpful to us campaigning to save RAF Marham but it would be better if we knew how much these costs are.'

Nick Daubney, West Norfolk council leader, was also 'encouraged' by the minister's comments but said it was something that Make it Marham campaigners have always said.

He added: 'I am confident that the case we have made is as strong as it could have been but we just have to wait for an official announcement.'

Mr Harvey's comments have sparked furious speculation in Scotland that RAF Marham has been spared the axe.

Calum Macpherson, spokesman of the Moray Task Force, who was part of the group to meet the minister, said: 'We understand RAF Marham is now saved.

'It is now between Leuchars and Lossiemouth. We were told it would be too expensive to relocate Marham.'

However Mr Harvey has denied that a decision has been made about the future of Norfolk's last RAF flying base.

He said: 'I simply made the point that the cost of relocating the RAF out of Marham would be very high and first and foremost the purpose of this whole exercise is to try to achieve financial savings.'

A MOD spokesman added: 'Minister for Armed Forces, Nick Harvey, did not say that RAF Marham was 'safe'.

'He was explaining some of the range of considerations to be taken into account as part of the UK wide basing review.

'The on-going basing work is extremely complex and as yet no decisions have been made.'

The fight to save RAF Marham united MPs, councils, businesses and communities across the county, under the Make it Marham banner at the start of November.

The campaign, supported by the EDP and local radio station KL.FM, peaked a couple of weeks later when a delegation travelled to 10 Downing Street to deliver a petition with nearly 37,000 signatures.