Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 13:25 UK

RAF base pictures prompt inquiry

RAF Brize Norton
RAF Brize Norton is the main airport for deploying UK troops overseas

Defence chiefs have ordered an urgent investigation into accommodation at RAF Brize Norton after photographs were published showing dilapidated quarters.

The Sun showed images of broken sewage pipes and temporary units with mouldy walls and missing windows.

The MoD said cabins at the Oxfordshire base were used in that "extreme" state, but had been empty for eight weeks.

It said they had mainly been used by troops on parachute training courses when all other accommodation was full.

The MoD stressed that the quarters had not been used by service personnel being deployed to Afghanistan.

Chief of Air Staff Sir Glenn Torpy and Defence Secretary Des Browne were said to be "very concerned".

Rats and damp

A statement from the MoD said: "We will make sure that whatever may have happened in the past, no service personnel have to stay in this accommodation in such a state in the future."

A ministry spokesman said the cabins had probably deteriorated slightly in the past eight weeks but "they would have been used in that state".

"We're figuring out a plan - whether it be to upgrade or dispose of them," he said.

This is at the extreme end of condition
MoD spokesman

The five photos showed accommodation huts with plastic sheets taped over broken windows. Inside the huts there are stains on the walls next to bunks.

The newspaper also said rats were "running rife", the electricity was faulty and ceilings were collapsing in the washrooms.

RAF Brize Norton is the main airport used for deploying UK troops worldwide.

The MoD spokesman said the cabins were used between October 2004 and December 2007 to house troops temporarily during parachute training.

Courses can overrun during bad weather and be oversubscribed so the cabins were offered to cope with overspill, he said.

They could house 40 troops at once, but they were all given the option to stay elsewhere at their own unit's expense.

"Some of the other cabins have small kitchens, but this is at the extreme end of condition," the spokesman said.

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