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Thousands of extra troops to be based around Salisbury Plain
9:00am Saturday 9th March 2013 in Andover
SALISBURY Plain will have to accommodate thousands of additional soldiers returning from Germany as bases there are closed.
Many of the troops will be based at Larkhill and Bulford, but there will be considerable changes of units at Tidworth with a new engineer battalion coming to Perham Down and a new barracks built for the Queen’s Royal Hussars.
Details of the changes locally were unveiled at a press conference in Tidworth following an announcement in parliament by defence secretary Philip Hammond.
The changes will mean the number of soldiers based on the plain rise from 11,000 to around 15,000 by the time the changes are complete – with most of them here by 2017.
The dual Army/Wiltshire Council press conference, hosted by 43 Wessex Brigade in the Garrison superdiner at the heart of the base, was led by acting brigade commander Col Paddy Tabor.
He said: “This will mean a £850 million investment in Wiltshire, mostly around Salisbury Plain.
“It will mean a marginal increase in training activity around Salisbury Plain but we are clear of our responsibilities in terms of the environment and habitats and these should be not be compromised in any way.
“Most Army units will move less frequently enabling them to be more integrated into the community than before.”
To accommodate the additional manpower there will need to be additional single soldiers accommodation built plus some new technical accommodation and workshops as well as between 1,000 and 1,200 married quarters.
This could mean significant additional civilian housebuilding in the area as well because Wiltshire Council and the Army have long been signed up to the idea of developing more balanced, less military dominated communities on parts of Salisbury Plain – i n c l u d i n g Tidworth.
W i l t s h i r e Council leader Jane Scott who also spoke at the press conference confirmed the need to maintain balanced communities and was upbeat at the prospects of so many additional soldiers and busier bases.
She said: “The MoD is the largest employer in the county and it is important that we work closely with them.
“This is wonderful news for our community – we welcome it.”
Local MP Claire Perry, whose Devizes constituency will have to accommodate the soldiers, was equally happy about the khaki influx.
She said: “I am delighted that our local towns and villages will be welcoming new soldiers which will give a real boost to the local economy.
“The Salisbury Plain training area is the only place in the country where the Army can carry out the complex and demanding training they need to undertake and it makes perfect sense to concentrate units that work together around the Plain.”