Hope for talks over the future of RAF Marham

Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss is seeking urgent government talks after the decision to scrap a Tornado squadron based at RAF Marham.

The squadron is to be disbanded as part of the coalition's review of defence spending and the news comes as campaigners anxiously await a decision on the future of the base.

Speaking last night, Ms Truss said: 'I am very concerned about the impact this will have on personnel and the wider community. I understand that there will be no immediate redundancies, but I have requested an urgent meeting with the defence secretary to discuss the implications of this announcement.'

The Norfolk-based XIII squadron and 14 squadron, based at Lossiemouth in Scotland, will be formally stood down on June 1 as part of the spending cuts being made under the government's Strategic Defence and Security Review. RAF Marham faces possible closure as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) looks to merge the RAF's Tornado fleet – currently split between Marham and RAF Lossiemouth – on a single site.

In a letter to Ms Truss, defence secretary Liam Fox said the announcement in no way indicated the government's intentions. 'I can assure you that no basing decisions have been made and the choice of these squadrons in no way prejudices that ongoing work,' he said.

It is not yet clear how many jobs will be lost at RAF Marham, which currently provides employment for about 5,000 people in the region.

An MoD spokesman said: 'The disbandment of these squadrons does not mean that their personnel will automatically be made redundant. In the short-term they will be found alternative employment.

Most Read

'The Royal Air Force anticipates that the majority will be found other permanent roles, although not necessarily in their current location.'

The EDP-backed Make It Marham Campaign was launched in November and a 36,751-name petition was delivered to Downing Street in January.

A decision has not yet been made and the announcement may not come until the summer.

The fight to save RAF Marham was given a boost this week when the former head of the Army said he believed as long as Tornados were in the air, the base would remain.

General Lord Richard Dannatt said he believed the base had a positive future – hinting that when Tornados reach the end of their life the base could be used by the Army for troops coming out of Germany.

'I am quite certain that Marham will remain as a base for the armed forces and there is a high probability that the RAF will stay,' he said.

Speaking during a trip to a training centre for young people in King's Lynn on Monday, Lord Dannatt said he thought Marham's future was secure, even when the Tornado is taken out of service, within the next six years.