HC Deb 15 March 2002 vol 381 cc1253-4W
Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what long-term plans he has for Colerne Airfield; [43522]

(2) what plans he has for the re-basing of 21 Signals Regiment from Azinghur Barracks at Colerne; [43515]

(3) how many civilian staff are employed at Azinghur Barracks, Colerne; [43516]

(4) if he will make a statement about the future of Colerne Airfield and Azinghur Barracks. [43523]

Mr. Ingram

An internal study into the future location of 21 Signal Regiment (AS), currently based at Azimghur Barracks, has been completed recently. The study concluded that in principle there were sound operational and financial reasons to support a move of the unit to Gamecock Barracks, Bramcote where it would be co-located with 30 Signal Regiment.

Colerne Airfield is not part of this work and there are no plans for its closure. The two other units at Colerne—1001 Support Unit RAF and Bristol University Air Squadron—are also not part of this internal study, but as the hon. Member is aware, we are undertaking a separate review of University Air Squadron Flying.

Further work is required before any decision to move 21 Signal Regiment could be finalised, and it would be premature therefore to make a statement about the future of Azimghur Barracks at this stage. The Ministry of Defence will, of course, be consulting with the Trade Unions and the 81 civilian staff who support 21 Signal Regiment in due course. I will write to the hon. Member once a final decision in made and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flights by Bristol University OTC there have been in each of the last five years from Colerne Airfield. [43520]

Mr. Ingram

The information is not held in the format requested. However, it is possible to provide the number of hours which Bristol University Air Squadron flew in each of the last four years from Colerne Airfield. The Tutor aircraft used by the University Air Squadron are also used by the No. 3 Air Cadet Air Experience Flight and the hours flown by them are also shown.

Financial Year University Air Squadron Air Experience Flight
1998–99 1,580 2,825
1999–2000 1,668 2,428
2000–01 1,551 2,218
2001–02* 1,362 1,832
* to date

Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of where Bristol University OTC will train if Colerne Airfield closes. [43521]

Mr. Ingram

There are no plans for Colerne Airfield to close, so no assessment of alternative locations for Bristol University Air Squadron to train has been undertaken. A review of University Air Squadron flying is being undertaken, but this is not specific to the Bristol University Air Squadron and the outcome of the review will not be known until the end of April at the earliest.