600 of the 700 RAF personnel based at RAF Aldergrove are to move
to England within the next two years. The move will also see
around 140 civilian posts being lost.
An Army base in Antrim town is also to close,
with soldiers moving into the vacated airforce accommodation.
The Armed Forces Minister said it had been
decided to relocate 230 Squadron, currently based at RAF
Aldergrove and equipped with Puma helicopters, to RAF Benson in
Oxfordshire as part of long-term planning. Around 500 family
members will accompany the RAF personnel to England.
Space freed up will then be used to relocate
38 Engineer Regiment from Massereene Barracks in Antrim, which
will subsequently be closed and sold off.
The relocation plan for both bases is expected
to be carried out by 2010.
It's thought the move will result in around
140 of the 420 civilian staff currently employed at Aldergrove
and Massereene being made redundant. A spokesman for the
Ministry of Defence said they were attempting to minimise
Negotiations have begun with the trade unions
about voluntary redundancy and possible moves to other
government departments in Northern Ireland. There will also be
jobs available at RAF Benson for those who are prepared to move
South Antrim MLA Thomas Burns said the
closure of RAF Aldergrove was 'a significant blow to the local
"The offer of relocation to Oxford is hardly
going to be attractive to many local civilian staff' he said.
"There could be 100 job losses and every civilian employee must
be given a local reemployment opportunity or a good redundancy
"There will also be a negative impact on local
schools and businesses, with so many families moving out of the
country. "However, the relocation will not be complete for
nearly 18 months and we now have a golden opportunity to make
this work positively for the local community.
"There are 600 or so homes of varying size at
RAF Aldergrove which could meet a lot of demand for social and
affordable housing in the area. This could be a great mixed
tenure development and I would like to see the Housing Executive
and housing associations getting involved in this debate.
"Furthermore, any available industrial land at Aldergrove
must be given to InvestNl immediately and this development
opportunity should be sold hard at the upcoming investment
conference in May."