Decision to close Huntingdonshire bases could be set for rethink

RAF Alconbury,

RAF Alconbury, - Credit: Archant

The decision to close two air force bases in Huntingdonshire is to be reviewed by US defence chiefs.

The US Department of Defense made the decision to withdraw its forces from RAF Alconbury and Molesworth in 2015 as part of a cost-saving initiative to consolidate bases in Britain and Germany.

The bases are scheduled to close in 2023, along with 13 other European US bases. However, closures are implemented by the United States European Command (EUCOM), which is now reviewing the decision in response to the heightened security situation in Europe.

A statement from EUCOM said: “Considering the current European security environment, it is a prudent measure to review some of the decisions under the January 2015 European Infrastructure Consolidation effort.

“These closures were programmed over a number of fiscal years and to date, none of these sites have been returned to the host nation, as we are putting the necessary infrastructure in place to facilitate mission and personnel moves necessary.”

If EUCOM decides against the closure of RAF Alconbury and Molesworth, which is home to US Air Force communication and intelligence operations, it would need

backing from the US government.

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If the decision to close the bases is confirmed, however, operations would be moved to RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire.

In the wake of the 2015 decision to close the air force bases, which are thought to contribute £40 million to the district’s economy, the land, owned by the Ministry of Defence, was earmarked for housing.

Cur rently, Huntingdonshire District Council has allocated around 1,450 homes, in its local plan to 2036, to be built on RAF Alconbury.

Following the EUCOM announcement, however, leader of the district council, Councillor Robin Howe, said if the base does not close the authority will have to rethink its plans.

“We have quite a few houses planned for the site in our local plan. These houses are towards the back of the planned period, and if this happens we will have to push these back or think where we are going to put these houses,” Cllr Howe told The Hunts Post.

Cllr Howe added that there are no plans for any development on RAF Molesworth due to the lack of infrastructure.

The council is to meet with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation next week to discuss the future of both sites.