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Several threatened military airfields saved permanently or given temporary reprieve

PUBLISHED: 17:01 18 March 2019

RAF Halton - Tiger Moth (c) Peter Dean, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

RAF Halton - Tiger Moth (c) Peter Dean, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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The announcement came after concerns about the speed and scale of airfield closures were raised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA) and defence ministers

Speaking in the House of Commons, Defence Minister Tobias Elwood MP confirmed that airstrips at Royal Marine’s (RM) Condor, RM Chivenor and MoD Woodbridge would all be retained permanently.

Other airfields have been given a temporary reprieve.

RAF Henlow has had is decommissioning delayed until 2023, while RAF Halton and RAF Colerne have been saved until at least 2025.

MoD had planned to close all six airfields under its Defence Estate Optimisation Programme.

Chair of the APPG-GA’s Airfields Working Group, Luke Pollard MP, said: “It is fantastic news these historic military airfields are remaining open into the future.

“The sites are all the perfect habitat for light aviation and would make valuable additions to the national strategic network of airfields. The Government needs to seize this opportunity.”

RAF Henlow and RAF Halton are both grass airfields with thriving General Aviation communities already in place.

RM Condor and RAF Colerne have small units based there which engage in air experience flying for cadets and university students. RM Chivenor and MoD Woodbridge have no permanent flying units based there and are only used on an ad hoc basis as operations require.

Mr Pollard said: “The MoD stands to benefit from relaxing civilian flying rules at these airfields. Not only would the runways see greater use, but it could provide a valuable new revenue stream in this era of ever tightening defence budgets.”

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