HC Deb 02 March 1999 vol 326 cc654-5W
Mr. Borrow

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where units of the two new brigades announced in the Strategic Defence Review, and other units returned from Germany, are to be based. [74619]

Mr. Doug Henderson

The two brigades to be formed under the Strategic Defence Review are: 12 Mechanised Brigade, to be created by converting 5 Airborne Brigade at Aldershot; and the development of 24 Airmobile Brigade, based at Colchester, into a new high capability air manoeuvre formation—16 Air Assault Brigade.

The Headquarters of 12 Mechanised Brigade will be at Aldershot, and that of 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester. I have today placed in the House of Commons Library details of provisional plans under which units of the new mechanised brigade would be based in Aldershot in Hampshire, Tidworth and Larkhill Garrisons in Wiltshire, Bovington in Dorset, Abingdon in Oxfordshire and Windsor in Berkshire, and units of 16 Air Assault Brigade would be located in Colchester in Essex, Woodbridge and Wattisham in Suffolk, Dishforth in Yorkshire, and Canterbury in Kent. These proposals will now be the subject of discussions with local authorities and assessments of environmental impact and value for money.

If confirmed, the changes would be phased over a number of years, as progress with the necessary barracks refurbishment projects proceeds; but we plan that the move of two parachute battalions from Aldershot to Colchester, where they will be closer to their parent formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade, will take place next year, as will the corresponding move of two infantry battalions to Aldershot from Colchester to form part of the new 12 Mechanised Infantry Brigade.