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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 15:25 GMT
Base decision will 'help airport'
RAF St Mawgan
RAF St Mawgan is due to be mothballed in 2007
A decision not to base a new generation of military aircraft in Cornwall will help its civilian airport, politicians and military personnel have said.

RAF St Mawgan near Newquay will not become the base for the MoD's new Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA).

It was hoped they would keep the base open and safeguard Newquay Airport.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram and county council leader David Whalley both said the airport could now work on achieving its commercial potential.

'Possible disposal'

RAF St Mawgan is due to be mothballed in 2007. Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram said the MoD was also considering "alternative defence uses or possible disposal".

If the military presence is completely withdrawn, the airport will have to provide its own runway maintenance, firefighter cover and air traffic control.

That currently costs the county council about 500,000 a year in fees to the RAF, but could cost up to 2.5m a year to replace without military involvement, according to the Devon and Cornwall Business Council.

But Mr Ingram said a military withdrawal would be welcomed by some.

He said: "There is a welcome for this announcement in the area because what they are seeking to do there is to build the commercial aspect of the airport.

"That probably could not have easily co-existed with a military base."

Concerns included what the noise impact would have been.

Ryanair passengers at Newquay Airport
About 300,000 passengers use Newquay Airport per year
North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson said: "It'll be welcomed by some in the tourism industry who were concerned about the JCA.

But he added: "It certainly will not be welcomed by those who jobs are directly concerned with the base who were hoping this was a way of keeping RAF jobs there into the future." Council leader David Whalley said: "Obviously we're sorry at the position with jobs on the base, but we now look forward to the future."

The base's commander said the airport could carry on developing "unfettered by any military requirements".

Annually, about 300,000 passengers use Newquay Airport.

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