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Norton Camp will not close

The future of the Norton Camp, home of 40 Commando has been secured. The camp which was due to close in 2028 has been reprieved. The formal announcement will be made later today when the Secretary of State for Defence visits the Norton Camp. It is widely believed that his visit to the camp last month following lobbying from MP Rebecca Pow was instrumental in changing the decision.

At the time Ms Pow commented “I wanted the Defence Secretary to see the site for himself and to demonstrate, together with Ltn Col Paul Maynard and his remarkable team, that this 130-acre site, where over £50m has been invested in recent time, is ideally equipped to cater for 40 Commando’s needs well into the future.

It is a welcome bit of good news for Taunton and follows a review of the costs of creating a new super base near Plymouth for the Marines and Commando units. The importance of the relationship between the armed forces and Somerset’s County Town has been a long one. The reprieve will be welcomed locally and it will be a big boost for the local economy.

The reprieve for the site near Taunton was announced by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence in a statement to the House of Commons.

Meanwhile in a letter to the MP for Taunton Deane the Secretary of State wrote: “Today’s announcement confirms that as a result of assessment work the Department no longer intends to dispose of Norton Camp in your constituency, which was initially announced for disposal. We recognise the strength of feeling in the local community about Norton Camp and the campaign you have led to retain it. Norton Camp will now be retained as it has an ongoing defence use. This decision will offer better value and better supports military capability…

Whilst it is indeed good news, what follows may be less palatable. We can now expect the distasteful spectacle of a big scramble by politicians of all hues to claim credit for the result.

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