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Minister asked about RAF Marham's long-term prospects

PUBLISHED: 18:44 01 March 2011

South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss.

South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss.

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Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss pressed the government yesterday for reassurance about the long-term as well short-term future of RAF Marham.

She intervened in a Commons debate on the government's review of military basing to ask what is being considered in respect of maintenance facilities for the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter aircraft which is to be brought in by 2021.

Reminding MPs that a defence minister had said in January that it would be prohibitive to move engineering facilities away from Marham - which the government has pitched into a battle with the Lossiemouth base in Scotland to become the future home of a cut-back Tornado fleet - she declared: "We need a long-term decision that will reflect the costs and expertise that has built up in RAF Marham".

The debate was initiated by Angus Robertson, the SNP MP for Moray - including Lossiemouth - and defence minister Gerald Howarth reinforced a pessimistic view in Scotland that either Lossiemouth or the Luechars base in Fife will be closed to the RAF and used as a home for soldiers returning from Germany. He emphasised that "no longer required by the RAF... does not mean no longer required by defence".

It is widely assumed in Scotland that after the elections to that country's parliament in May are over, the government will announce that the RAF is to lose either Lossiemouth or Leuchars, and that the Tornados will be concentrated at Marham.

But if that happens, will the base subsequently become the home of the Joint Strike Fighter? "That is what my concern is", Ms Truss told the EDP.

Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss pressed the government yesterday for reassurance about the long-term as well short-term future of RAF Marham.

She intervened in a Commons debate on the government’s review of military basing to ask what is being considered in respect of maintenance facilities for the next-generation Joint Strike Fighter aircraft which is to be brought in by 2021.

Reminding MPs that a defence minister had said in January that it would be prohibitive to move engineering facilities away from Marham - which the government has pitched into a battle with the Lossiemouth base in Scotland to become the future home of a cut-back Tornado fleet - she declared: “We need a long-term decision that will reflect the costs and expertise that has built up in RAF Marham”.

The debate was initiated by Angus Robertson, the SNP MP for Moray - including Lossiemouth - and defence minister Gerald Howarth reinforced a pessimistic view in Scotland that either Lossiemouth or the Luechars base in Fife will be closed to the RAF and used as a home for soldiers returning from Germany. He emphasised that “no longer required by the RAF... does not mean no longer required by defence”.

It is widely assumed in Scotland that after the elections to that country’s parliament in May are over, the government will announce that the RAF is to lose either Lossiemouth or Leuchars, and that the Tornados will be concentrated at Marham.

But if that happens, will the base subsequently become the home of the Joint Strike Fighter? “That is what my concern is”, Ms Truss told the EDP.

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