Defence Minister outlines progress on building a Better Defence Estate

Good progress is being made on the MOD’s plans for more modern and efficient military bases, Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood has told Parliament

In a statement to MPs, Mr Ellwood confirmed that the MOD has already disposed of nine sites and has advanced its plans for the release of other sites which have been identified for sale.

The changes under the Better Defence Estates Strategy, announced in 2016, are the most significant since the end of the Second World War and will see the sale of 91 sites owned or managed by the MOD.

The site sales will release land no longer required by the military, which will be able to be used for more economically beneficial purposes, such as house building.

The plans will save the taxpayer around £140 million by the end of the decade, rising to £3 billion by the end of 2040. The changes will also reduce the number of personnel being regularly moved between different bases, providing greater long-term stability and certainty for our Armed Forces and their families.

All money raised will be reinvested back into defence, with £4 billion committed to improving military bases, including accommodation.

Mr Ellwood also announced that the RAF will stop using RAF Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire by 2020 and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire by 2022.

RAF Scampton is the current home of the Red Arrows and work is underway to find them a new home fit for purpose. The MOD will work closely with the local council and potential buyers to ensure the site’s future use meets the needs of the local economy, whilst also exploring ways in which the heritage of the site, including a museum, can be preserved.

Despite RAF Scampton’s closure, the RAF presence in Lincolnshire continues to grow. There will be significant investment in the Lincolnshire area, with several hundred service personnel arriving at RAF Cranwell, RAF Waddington and RAF Coningsby over the next five years.

RAF Linton-on-Ouse, the main base for the No.1 Flying Training School, will cease being an RAF Station in 2020 and the MOD is currently considering other potential defence uses, ahead of an eventual disposal of the site.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:

"Our military bases are where our service personnel live, train and work, so it’s important that we have sites which suit the needs of the armed forces.

"That’s why we’re making our defence estate more modern and efficient, by closing sites we don’t need and investing in more modern accommodation. As well as saving money, and allowing reinvestment back into a more modern and better defence estate, the changes will provide greater long-term stability and certainty for our Armed Forces and their families."

Key facts

• The Better Defence Estates strategy is part of the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme, which will reduce the size of the built estate by 30 per cent by 2040 and will meet our SDSR commitment. See the strategy here

The programme has already delivered nine disposals at:

• Hullavington Airfield
• Chalgrove Airfield
• Somerset Barracks
• MOD facilities at Swansea Airport
• Moat House Rylston
• Road ARC (London)
• Newtonards Airfield
• Copthorne Barracks
• Lodge Hill

• The plans will deliver savings of over £140 million of running costs over the next 10 years, rising to nearly £3 billion by 2040. This is in addition to the £4 billion which will be spent over the next 10 years.

• As at 1 April 2016, the MOD currently controls around 2% of UK land, owning more than 568,000 acres of land and foreshore in the UK (either freehold or leasehold) and holding the rights over a further 548,573 acres.

• The estate includes approximately 50,000 houses, 60,000 technical assets such as hangars or workshops and 20,000 other key assets such as runways and electrical networks.

• The cost of maintaining this estate is significant, approximately £2.5bn per annum and spread across too many inefficient assets and sites.

• Approximately 40 per cent of our built assets are over 50 years old and do not meet the needs of a modern fighting force.

• The size of the built estate has reduced by 9 per cent since 1999/00 compared to a total personnel reduction of 36 per cent.

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