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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
RAF bases axed in defence review
Boulmer air base
RAF Boulmer began life as a decoy airfield in World War ll
A number of RAF operations face closure or being scaled down as part of a defence review by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram.

Plans will see RAF Sealand in Flintshire closed while RAF Boulmer in Northumberland and RAF Neatishead in Norfolk will be downgraded.

Units at RAF Stafford will move to RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire.

The move will see the loss of between 300 and 450 civilian jobs and is a blow to communities near the affected bases.

Units from RAF Brize Norton will move to RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire along with those from Sealand, Boulmer and Neatishead.

I understand that this news will be a cause for concern for those who work at the affected stations
Adam Ingram
Armed Forces Minister
RAF Sealand will close as a result and all but a rescue service will remain at Boulmer and Neatishead.

The government said the changes were part of its Strategic Defence Review.

Mr Ingram said: "I understand that this news will be a cause for concern for those who work at the affected stations and those who have campaigned for the maintenance of the status quo.

"However, I am sure that all concerned will recognise that we must locate our units in the best place for them to meet the operational demands placed upon them and at the same time make the best use of defence resources.

'Massive blow'

"I will make my decision on the option to accept once I have received a formal response from the trade unions.

"I am making an announcement now on my preferred option because I am very aware of the level of interest in this review, not least amongst the personnel likely to be affected."

RAF Boulmer, which houses 750 military and 200 civilian staff, has been the subject of a local campaign.

Berwick MP Alan Beith, whose constituency includes the Boulmer base, said: "This is a massive future blow to the economy of Northumberland which is not justified by any potential improvement in the effectiveness of the RAF.

"I shall be demanding that all the figures on which the decision has been based be published, including the investment appraisal."

RAF Boulmer began life as a decoy airfield in 1941 to divert German attacks from nearby RAF Acklington.

Northumberland County Council and Alnwick District Council said the closure of Boulmer would take 18m out the local economy.



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