Why Marham matters, minister

A Norfolk MP is set to meet Defence Secretary Liam Fox to press the case for RAF Marham.

Tornado jets were spared in the recent round of defence cuts.

But the aircraft are set to be reduced in number and stationed at a single base.

The 120-strong fleet is currently split between Marham and RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland.

MoD papers leaked to a scottish MP suggest Marham will become the jets' sole airfield.

Officials insist no final decision has been made.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said: 'There has been a lot of speculation in the press about the future of Marham, yet the final decision is still to be made.

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'But let's be clear, the facts speak for themselves.

'RAF Marham contributes �160 million to the local economy, it is where the specialist engineering of the Tornado takes place accommodating 300 BAE and Rolls Royce staff.'

Miss Truss said Marham was better-placed strategically for deployment to Afghanistan, as the aircraft can fly from Norfolk to the forward operating base in Cyprus without needing costly air-to-air refuelling.

'It is therefore clear to me that the economic and military case favours Marham,' she said.

'It would be wrong for any decisions to be based on some political manoeuvring and I will be saying as such to the Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox, when I meet him next week.'

Nick daubney, leader of west Norfolk council, said it had been lobbying hard behind the scenes.

'Whilst last week's announcement provided some comfort, I am seeking reassurances from ministers that the future of Marham is secure as a front line flying base for the RAF,' he said. 'I feel that it is important that Norfolk's MPs join forces to impress upon Government the deleterious effect that closure of the base would bring to Norfolk.'

An announcement on bases is expected early next year.