What has Privatising military training got do with eco towns?

The financing of the DTR (defence training review) site has been rocked by the shaky economy. The Metrix led consortium had planned to fund the project through the sale of surplus MoD land but with the housing market hitting rock bottom, predicted revenues are now substantially less than first believed. Rising inflation has led to a ballooning of costs to £12bn. (1)

There was an article in the telegraph in June Government in line to make millions from selling Ministry of Defence land for eco-towns By Vikki Miller and Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor 29/06/2008 “The truth behind Gordon Brown's flagship eco-town policy can be disclosed, with the Government set to raise millions from the schemes while watering down their green credentials. The Sunday Telegraph can report that the Treasury stands to make about £275million through land sales, because six out of the 15 shortlisted sites are on property either sold or earmarked for sale by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Critics claim the Government is forcing the unpopular eco-towns on the public to make more money from the land and say the process by which the final locations are to be selected is flawed, because ministers will have a vested interest in choosing the MoD sites.”

A similar story appeared in the Independent on the same day. Eco-towns could net Treasury £275m By Sadie Gray Sunday, 29 June 2008 (2) "Government plans for new eco-towns could make £275m fo the Treasury in land sales, as almost half the shortlisted sites are on MoD land marked for disposal. Five eco-towns are to be built by 2016 and a further five by 2020. Of 15 potential sites, six are on MoD land that is either for sale or has already been sold. Critics claim that ministers charged with deciding on the locations will have a vested interest in picking the MoD sites, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

In the case of the former Royal Engineers depot at Long Marston, the Government stands to make up to £84m from a clawback agreement giving it 50 per cent of the land's increased value if chosen for an eco-town. MoD clawback clauses typically demand between 30 and 50 per cent. A spokesman for the Communities and Local Government Department said: "If surplus public-sector land is available in the right area, then it is right to consider development on such brownfield sites in preference to the green belt."


SOUTH EAST ENGLAND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY tells us that the Green Town Vision proposals to expand the town onto the MoD site (which predate the eco town initiative), have been developed over a number of years ...(3)

....Whitehill / Bordon is a garrison town where the Ministry of Defence presence makes a large contribution to supporting the local economy and social fabric. The MoD have announced their departure as part of the Defence Training Review (estimated date 2012-2015, possibly phased). The town will be hugely sensitive to the withdrawal, which will exacerbate issues of economic activity rates, unemployment, housing mix and quality and social cohesion.

The Green Town Vision proposals to expand the town onto the MoD site (which predate the eco town initiative), have been developed over a number of years with full public consultation, and have strong community support. Up to 5500 homes and between 2800-5600 jobs are proposed.

Handy idea to use a bit of greenwash to try and sell some land that isn’t moving

But the government insist the eco towns and the proposed privatisation of military training will go ahead as planned. They didn’t factor in the credit crunch. Both projects are now almost certainly doomed.

(1) http://www.antimetrix.org/2008/09/leaked-mod-memo-bad-news-for-st-athan.html
(2) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ecotowns-could-net-treasury-163275m-856667.html

(3) www.seeda.co.uk/About_SEEDA/Board_members/board_meetings/papers/June2008/Item8-EcoTownsBoardReport.doc

DCLG denies weekend eco-town reports
Regen.net (subscription), UK -
... that officials at the DCLG have concluded only 'one or two' of the 15 shortlisted projects are genuinely viable. It said the Eco-Towns Challenge. ...
CLG claims eco-towns are on track Inside Housing
Government vows to push on with eco-towns despite credit crunch Birmingham Post
Collapse of eco-towns plan denied Local Government Chronicle
Public Servant Online


St Modwen and co-developers the Bird Group have already announced their intention to make Middle Quinton one of the most sustainable communities in the country, if they get Government approval to turn the 600-acre former MOD depot into an eco-town.

The majority of residents in the small village of Long Marston are thought to be against building an eco-town on disused MoD land nearby.

Government paid charity to produce eco-town 'fact' leaflets

07/09/2008 00:32AM BST | By Vikki Miller | News | Relevance: 92.69%

Government paid charity to produce eco-town 'fact' leaflets. Gordon Brown's eco-towns scheme was embroiled in new controversy last night as a housing charity admitted it had been paid to produce information leaflets setting out the Government's case.. ..

Armed Forces: Training

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact on Defence Training Review project financing of levels of demand from residential developers for his Department’s land at (a) Aborfield and (b) Borden. [217395]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Defence Training Review (DTR) Package 1 Project plans to improve and rationalise phase 2 and phase 3 technical training. As a consequence of this rationalisation both Bordon and Arborfield Garrisons will be released for sale from 2012 onwards.

MOD has sought recent independent valuation advice for both sites as part of financial appraisals for DTR which uses prudent levels of values in its assessments.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plans have been agreed by his Department for managing affordability gaps identified in the Defence Training Review. [217725]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Department continues to work constructively with the Metrix consortium on a range of issues on DTR Package 1 to achieve an affordable, value for money, acceptable and deliverable project. Cost growth and the implications of the credit crunch on borrowing have been a significant factor. The Department has been working jointly with Metrix to drive the price down to seek to eliminate the affordability gap without materially affecting the scope of the project.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to discuss with the Comptroller and Auditor General the treatment of the financing of the Defence Training Review programme in his Department's accounts. [217726]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Ministry of Defence has not yet entered into a contract for the delivery of Defence Training with the Metrix consortium. The treatment of the financing of the Defence Training Review (DTR) programme does not therefore appear in the Department's accounts and consequently there are no plans to discuss DTR with the Comptroller and Auditor General. One
14 July 2008 : Column 164W

minor entry for a contingent liability of £9.5 million will, however, be included in this financial year's account. This undertaking was laid as a departmental minute before the House for 14 working days on 29 January this year.

Defence Training Review Executive Board

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the minutes of the last meeting of the Defence Training Review Executive Board. [217394]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I am withholding the information requested as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interest.

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