Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): If he will consider, as part of the strategic defence and security review, the merits of the Army returning to RAF St Athan rather than RAF Cosford. The Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey): Plans for the defence training review package 1 project remain unchanged, and consequently it is still planned for 102 Logistics Brigade to relocate to RAF Cosford in 2018 under the BORONA programme. Like everything else in the defence world, that is subject to the strategic defence and security review. At this point, no decisions have been taken.Mark Pritchard: Let me be clear: Shropshire has a long and proud history of working with the British Army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, but does it make sense, given the presence of the excellent special forces support group and 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment, and indeed the logistic hangars and a very long runway indeed at RAF St Athan in Wales, for 102 Logistics Brigade to return to St Athan rather than to RAF Cosford in Shropshire?Nick Harvey: My hon. Friend is aware that there were two different proposals in the final analysis for the defence training review facilities: Cosford and St Athan. Those were subject to the most detailed scrutiny to decide which was the better fit for our defence requirements and the decision was that the defence training review should relocate facilities to St Athan. We believe that there is an obvious synergy between that and other work at St Athan, particular in high technology, and a lot of work has already gone into preparing for that move. To change course now, as he suggests, would undo a great deal of investment that has already been made and add considerably to the final cost.
Tuesday 6th July 2010, 11:30AM BST.Fresh doubt was today cast over the future of RAF Cosford as a military base after the the new coalition Government signalled it had no intention of switching plans to construct a defence super-centre at an air force base in South Wales to the Midlands instead.Campaigners’ hopes for a reversal of the previous Labour government’s decision have been dashed after Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey indicated it was out of the question.The Conservatives promised a review of the transfer if they won power.Mr Harvey stopped short of guaranteeing the £13bn project currently under way at St Athan would get the green light from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition as part of its strategic defence review, which is expected to be driven by the need to scale back spending.But said to “change courses” would “add to the final costs considerably”.In addition, he was unable to shed any further light on shelved plans to move UK troops based in Germany to RAF Cosford – its only other hope of staying alive as a military base.Plans for the movement of 2,600 troops from Germany to Cosford, due to start in 2016 under Operation Barona, have been delayed to 2018 – putting 400 jobs at the air field near Wolverhampton at risk.Mr Harvey said the plans were still under review.His comments came after Telford and Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard urged him to consider the merits of relocating some brigades to St Athan, while suggesting Cosford should remain the principal training centre for the armed forces.Raising the issue during Defence Questions in the Commons yesterday, Mr Pritchard said: “Shropshire has a long and proud history of working with the British Army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.“But does it not make sense, given the presence of the extra special forces support group and the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment and indeed the logistic hangars and the very long runway indeed at RAF St Athan in Wales, to actually have 1 and 2 logistics brigade return to St Athan rather than RAF Cosford in Shropshire?” asked the Tory MP.Work is under way to move the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE), currently at Cosford airbase near Shifnal, to Wales from 2014.Mr Harvey said the decision had been made that St Athan was “better fit for our defence requirements”.He went on: “We believe there is an obvious synergy between that and other work at St Athan, particularly in high-technology areas.“To change courses as you suggest now, would undo a great deal of investment that has already been made and add to the final costs considerably,” he added.Welsh Labour MP Chris Bryant said he was delighted the Government was going to “stick with St Athan”.