RAF revamp to secure future
LONG term refurbishment plans for RAF Wittering have provided reassurance over its future.
Fears were raised for the future of the air force base when the Ministry of Defence announced cuts last year and the iconic Harrier jump jet was axed.
But this week plans were submitted to Peterborough City Council seeking permission to refurbish the officers’ mess following completion of the senior non-commissioned officers’ mess.
Squadron Leader (Retired) Tony Walsh, spokesman for RAF Wittering, said: “This is work that has been on the cards for several years now.
“Each year the Defence Infrastructure Organisation looks at which projects need to be done.
“They assess things like cost, urgency and the future of the base before deciding where to direct resources. The 1,400 people working here on the base knew we were staying but this building work provides extra reassurance to the general public.”
The base will also be home to a new Army unit from about July 2013 when the Headquarters 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group, party of the army’s Royal Engineers, relocate from Waterbeach, near Cambridge.
This will see 44 service personnel and their families move on to the base.
And servicemen and women at the base, the majority of whom work for the RAF’S logistics, are hoping there could be more RAF units joining them.
The news delighted Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, who lobbied former defence secretary Liam Fox over the base’s future.
He said: “I have fought very hard for RAF Wittering. I had a personal assurance from the former secretary of state over the future of the base and as far as I am concerned that pledge still stands.
“I am pleased to see that measures are now being taken to ensure that this will continue to remain an operational base.”
Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, recently asked about the base in the House of Commons and received an answer from minister of state for defence Nick Harvey.
He wrote: “RAF Wittering has a continued future as an RAF station hosting a range of units including the RAF’S expeditionary engineering and logistics.
“Additionally, to maximise the use of resources, Headquarters 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group will relocate to RAF Wittering.”
Mr Jackson said: “It is reassuring to know it will, at least in the short term, remain an operational base, albeit without the iconic Harriers.”