My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 15 May 2008, my predecessor announced that Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) and its intimate supporting elements would move to Innsworth in Gloucestershire in the summer of 2010 (Official Report, col. 66WS). At that time Cosford in Shropshire was our preferred site for 1 Signal Brigade (1 Sig Bde) and 102 Logistic Brigade (102 Log Bde) and our aim was to close Rhine Garrison and Münster Station by 2015, leaving three enduring garrisons in Germany; Gütersloh, Paderborn and Hohne.
Continuing work on the Defence Training Rationalisation Programme means that Cosford will not be available in time to achieve this aim. The programme team responsible for the moves from Germany to the UK has therefore examined alternative site solutions and today I am announcing that the preferred site for 1 Sig Bde is now Stafford. This decision will need to be confirmed following scrutiny of the detailed plans for the move and the programme team will now focus on drawing up these plans, which will include a competition for the infrastructure and construction requirements at Stafford, with a view to occupation in 2013. The team will continue to consult all interested parties including the local county and borough councils, health and education providers and the trade unions.
I believe this is a positive defence initiative for the area and complements Stafford’s growth point status which will enable a joint approach between the Government and the local authorities to support the defence community. Stafford is already the home of 22 Signal Regiment (22 Sig Regt) and moving other elements of 1 Sig Bde (7 and 16 Sig Regts) there provides a synergy that will be important to the department and should also be beneficial to the local community.
Cosford remains our preferred site for 102 Logistic Brigade once the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE) moves to St Athan, and on current assumptions we envisage the Logistic Brigade moving in 2016. Cosford is a well found site that has enduring military utility and is designated as a MoD core site. We will continue to consider the other opportunities that Cosford affords us as the need arises.
These changes enable us to keep the closure of Rhine Garrison on track and this is currently envisaged as being in 2014. We would expect Münster Station to close in 2016-17 assuming 102 Log Bde moves to Cosford in 2016.