Decision over RAF Marham’s future has now been taken, says minister

Defence chiefs discussed the future of key RAF bases including RAF Marham over the weekend, it emerged today.

But while Defence Secretary Liam Fox confirmed that decisions had now been taken, he stopped short of putting Norfolk out of its misery, by announcing the outcome.

At Defence Questions today, Dr Fox told MPs the findings of a review would be revealed in the near future.

Dr Fox was answering a question from the Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Angus Robertson, who said there had been an all-party submission calling for the retention of RAF Lossiemouth on 'defence and security grounds'.

Mr Robertson also warned of the effects on local economies of closing Ministry of Defence sites.

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Dr Fox replied: 'I fully understand all the arguments that the honourable gentleman puts forward. 'As I've always said we regard the military elements as having a paramount importance but we also understand the other ones having taken a number of those key decisions over the weekend I hope we will be making progress very shortly.'

Numbers of Tornado aircraft are set to be cut from 130 to 60, as part of the wider defence review.

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The fast jets are expected to be based at a single airfield, leaving either Marham or the Tornados' other main base RAF Lossiemouth under threat of closure.

Ministers including Prime Minister David Cameron have said a decision will be announced by July 19, when Parliament goes into its summer recess.

Politicians and communities from across Norfolk rallied behind the EDP's Make it Marham campaign, which aimed to highlight reasons for keeping the base.

Marham employs more than 5,000 people and contributes �130m a year to Norfolk's economy.

Campaigners delivered a 36,000-signature petition to 10 Downing Street last November.

Tonight South-west Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said: 'It looks as if the announcement is imminent.

'I am very hopeful on account of Marham. The case has been made both militarily and economically. But people do need to know.'

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