MoD defends buildings work

MINISTRY of Defence officials have defended a decision to demolish buildings at a former American air base and spend £100million on creating a new barracks and training centre for the Army.

MINISTRY of Defence officials have defended a decision to demolish buildings at a former American air base and spend £100million on creating a new barracks and training centre for the Army.

The arrival in of the 23 Engineer Regiment at Woodbridge Airfield in 2006 is being welcomed by the community – but there have been criticisms that the MoD has engaged in a "terrible waste of money" by not refurbishing some of the buildings.

However, the MoD stressed that the needs of 21st century British soldiers were different compared with those of American servicemen who used the air base for a different purpose many years ago.

A spokesman said that money was being saved by building a modern barracks and a training centre that would last longer and be cheaper to maintain than "patching up" old buildings.


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"Essentially, Woodbridge was an air base that the Americans needed for a Cold War environment. What the British Army needs today is a training centre and barracks for the Royal Engineers for however many years – this is a totally different purpose in a different environment," he said.

"Some of the buildings have been refurbished and will be used, but the soldiers' accommodation could not be. There will be modern buildings meeting modern health and safety regulations.

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"The MoD has to consider what we call the full life costs. You build into the scheme the future maintenance, and doing what we are doing will be cheaper than spending money on maintenance of old buildings."

The MoD is saving money and potential harm to the environment by crushing the old buildings on site to provide the hardcore for the new barracks. This onsite recycling of materials saves landfill space and reduces the need for trucks to use the local roads.

But Norman Rose, who used to hold a civilian position as clerk of works at the twin American air bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge, warned: "Local people here are not amused that the Ministry of Defence chooses to waste such a phenomenal amount of money - £80m-£100m – to house a few hundred troops. The Government is always reminding us of financial constraints.

"But to claim that brand new buildings have to be demolished because they contain 110volt plug outlets is amazing to the extreme. There can be no justification for this terrible waste of money.

Mr Rose, from Martlesham, added: "It is outrageous that buildings that were built to such a high standard and only completed in the early 1990s, just before the USAF 81st Fighter Wing pulled out, were not made available to any regiment of any nationality with only minor alterations needed."

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