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The Army in Wiltshire - £850m spend announced

March 5, 2013 10:18 PM

British Army Challenger tanksAround £850 million pounds will be spent to develop Army bases in Wiltshire as part of plans to bring British troops home from Germany, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced today.

Details of the new bases and accommodation were set out in the Army Basing Plan which clarifies the Army's future permanent UK locations. The £850m is part of £1.8 billion being spent across the UK.

The new basing plan will make better use of the Defence estate and provide better accommodation and facilities for troops and their families.

All three of the Army's new Reactive Force Armoured Infantry Brigades, announced last year as part of the army 2020 plans, will be based around Salisbury Plain. Two are already here and the third will move to Salisbury Plain from Germany by 2019.

The Plan will see an increase of around 4,000 Army personnel in the area by 2019 and investment in infrastructure across bases and on military housing. By 2020 there will be approximately 14,800 personnel.

The plan to increase the Army presence on Salisbury Plain will require careful planning and continued consultation with the council and relevant statutory bodies. Wiltshire Council and DEFRA's Major Infrastructure and Environment Unit have been engaged during the planning.

The MoD will work with Wiltshire Council, English Heritage and other stakeholders to ensure that any effects on the World Heritage Site, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and nature conservation areas are mitigated.

The following unit moves will take place around the Salisbury Plain area, subject to planning permission:

- Larkhill will continue as the home of the Royal Regiment of Artillery with four new artillery units: 26 Regiment Royal Artillery will move from Germany to Larkhill after 2017; 47 Regiment Royal Artillery will move to Larkhill by 2014 from Thorney Island; 1 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and 19 Regiment Royal Artillery will both move to Larkhill by 2014. They are currently located in Tidworth.

- Bulford will become the new home of 5th Battalion The Rifles as they move from Germany after 2016 and to 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment who will move from Germany after 2017.

- Tidworth will become the home of The Queens' Royal Hussars (The Queen's Own and Royal Irish) moving from Germany after 2017. This will co-locate three Challenger equipped Armoured Regiments.

- Tidworth will also become the home of two new medical units by 2020: 1 Medical Regiment from Germany and 5 Medical Regiment from Catterick.

- Tidworth will also house 3 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers by 2020. The unit is currently based in Germany.

- Perham Down will receive a third Engineer Regiment as 35 Engineer Regiment moves from Germany by 2020.

- Headquarters 1st Artillery Brigade will be based in Tidworth with Headquarters South West.

Around 70% of the Army will be brought back from Germany by the end of 2016 with the final 4,300 back by the end of 2019 - a move expected to reduce expenditure by £240 million a year.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "By setting out our plans to bring troops back to the UK we are not only providing our Service personnel and their families with greater stability for their future but also generating a saving of around £240m a year in operational running costs.

"We are also going to invest an additional £1.8 billion in our new basing plan, providing investment around the country, crucial jobs for local economies and the best possible accommodation for our soldiers and their families.

"This work also supports and enables the Army 2020 structure, announced last year, which will ensure that the British Army remains the most capable Army in its class, adaptable and ready to meet the security challenges of the next decade and beyond."

Colonel Paddy Tabor, Garrison Commander Tidworth and Bulford, said: "Today's announcement addresses the requirement for the Armoured Infantry Brigades of the Reaction Forces to be based around the Salisbury Plain Training Area set out in Army 2020.

"This optimised co-location presents significant opportunities for efficiency in how we train and generate forces, how we support and scale our equipment, and how we manage and support our people. This element of the Army 2020 concept also enables us to reduce estate running costs through better contracts that service large bodies of people, and allows best use of our most substantial training area.

"While the Basing plan will initially mean moves for a great number of service personnel and their families, learning where they will be based in the coming years will give them the security and certainty they need to plan their futures."