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US navy could still sink plans to close Daws Hill airbase
Plans to close Daws Hill US airbase could still be abandoned if the US Navy does not agree to move, a top RAF commander revealed this week.
Daws Hill's future was thrown into question after the Ministry of Defence announced a strategic review of its sites in the London area. Part of the review is an offer to relocate US Naval operations in Britain to RAF Uxbridge leaving the base at Daws Hill redundant.
But Squadron Leader Ian Palmer, who acts as the UK military liaison officer with the US Navy, told the Free Press this week: "At this moment in time the MOD have made an offer to the US Navy to move and they are considering it."
However, he added, if US Navy operations in the Britain do not agree to the proposed move then RAF Daws Hill may stay open and RAF Uxbridge sold off as a consequence.
Sqn Ldr Palmer went on to say: "As it is there are no guarantees that RAF Daws Hill will close. The plan could potentially close the base but it is all in the future and a decision will not be made for nine to 12 months.
He added: "If the US Navy did not want to move then they would stay where they are."
The commander also said that if a decision was taken to close the base it would not occur for several years.
The US Navy may find it difficult to resist the MOD offer to concentrate their activities just outside London.
John Szckas, public affairs spokesman for Commander US Naval Activities in the United Kingdom, said: "I don't really know what's going to happen. They have offered some places to look at and Uxbridge is one of those places. But I think there are a lot of advantages to consolidating the US Navy."
The RAF site, which was bought by the MOD in 1942, is now used mainly for storage. But it also houses an American school, 70 houses, a bowling alley and a club.
If the 50-acre Daws Hill site does close it could pave the way for a housing development.
Wycombe District Council needs to build 400 new homes by 2011 and the site could accommodate up to 600 new houses.
If the Americans do take up the offer to move to Uxbridge that base will become one of two proposed core sites for the US Naval operation in the Britain.
November 12, 2002 12:30