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RNAS Yeovilton and RNAS Merryfield

Volume 570: debated on Monday 4 November 2013

4. What his plans are for the future use of RNAS Yeovilton and RNAS Merryfield; and if he will make a statement. (900856)

I am pleased that my hon. Friend has asked about Yeovilton, where a number of our constituents work and where I have served. I am also pleased to assure him of our intention that Yeovilton will remain a royal naval air station with, additionally, 1 Regiment Army Air Corps based there as a lodger unit. Indeed, the Ministry of Defence is investing heavily in Yeovilton in order for it to be the main operating base for all Wildcat helicopters flown by the Royal Navy and the Army. Merryfield, as my hon. Friend will know, is a satellite airfield of Yeovilton and will continue to be used for training.

I am most grateful; the deployment of the Army Air Corps at Yeovilton is very good news for both Yeovilton and the surrounding area, even if we will have to get used to different coloured uniforms around the place. Given that the AAC uses Salisbury plain predominantly for training purposes, will the role of Merryfield be changed in future and will the Minister let me know if that is to be the case?

The answer to the last question is yes, of course I will let my hon. Friend know, but Merryfield will continue as a satellite to Yeovilton. He is right to say that the colour, as it were, of many of those working in Yeovilton will change—it will become more khaki—and that means Salisbury plain training areas will be used rather more. I reassure my hon. Friend that that probably means that his constituents are unlikely to be disturbed by too much low flying, which I know is a concern from time to time to a number of us who have military aviation operating in our areas.