Suffolk

MoD decisions on air bases expected by September 2015

RAF Mildenhall Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption The USAF said RAF Mildenhall contributed about £219m to the local economy in 2013-14

The UK government will announce plans for the sites of three former US airbases in East Anglia by September.

The US Air Force (USAF) announced in January it would leave RAF Mildenhall, RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth by 2020.

The bases will then return to Ministry of Defence (MoD) control.

The MoD said the general election and budget reviews could affect whether the bases remain in military use or are used for other purposes.

The USAF leases RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk and the two other bases in Cambridgeshire from the MoD.

Image copyright USAF
Image caption The USAF has CV-22 Ospreys based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk

The Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth (MAM) working group was set up featuring local councils, the MoD, the USAF and business groups to look at the bases' futures.

'Very positive'

James Waters, Conservative leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: "At the first meeting [the MoD] were saying it would be 12-18 months before they would make a decision, but that was nowhere near good enough.

"At the last meeting they said they'd have a decision by September, which is very positive.

"They're more than willing to help us get a better understanding of what facilities are on the base and what we may be able to use within our communities."

Matthew Hancock, Conservative MP for West Suffolk and MAM chairman, said: "We have got five years before the Americans are going to leave, so we've got the time, but we've got to make use of the time.

"Six months is fine, but we've got to nail down what the MoD want and what the opportunities are."

An MoD spokeswoman said: "It is the MoD's aspiration to make an announcement on the future of Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth within the next six months.

"However, the election, the forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review and future budget settlement will all potentially impact on our ongoing planning."

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