The Ministry of Defence has unveiled a plan to relocate services and personnel from the former home of the Red Arrows to what is claimed to be the world’s oldest working radar station.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation has submitted a request to North Yorkshire Council for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening opinion over the potential move from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, to Remote Radar Head Staxton Wold, which could become part of a designated Yorkshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
RAF Scampton’s closure, as part of a cost-saving measure, was announced in 2018, but it was not until last October that it was announced RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire would become the new home of the Red Arrows.
The Ministry of Defence has also revealed plans to move personnel and services from RAF Scampton to RAF Boulmer, in Northumberland.
Staxton Wold has been an operational radar station since 1936 and currently the base is part of the Air Surveillance And Control System organisation. Its current purpose is to gather information on aircraft flying in and around the UK Air Defence Region.
Planning documents lodged with the Northallerton-based local authority state the proposed development would be within the 11-hectare radar base near the villages of Willerby, Staxton and Flixton, on the Yorkshire Wolds escarpment, a proposed AONB.
The papers state: “The proposed development comprises of a mixture of living, working and training facilities, utilising the existing ageing, derelict infrastructure across the current base as well as the need for additional infrastructure.
“The proposed development will seek to enhance and refurbish existing assets and build new infrastructure, enabling the relocation of services and personnel to RRH Staxton Wold, whilst ensuring compliance with MOD Building Performance Standards requirements.”
The papers state there are currently three high-level design options for the proposed development, including refurbishment, extensions and reorganisation of existing living, working, training and infrastructure facilities.
Potential developments include the creation of four new single storey buildings, refurbishing or repurposing numerous buildings and facilities, building up to three new double-storey buildings, new hardstanding and creating parking spaces.
The planning documents state: “There will be an increase in vehicle numbers during construction and a small increase in vehicle numbers during operation due to an additional 26 people anticipated as a result of the proposed development.”
It is more than two years since the Government announced Natural England would considering giving special legal protection to the Yorkshire Wolds Escarpment as one of up to 38 AONBs in England, including the nearby Nidderdale and Howardian Hills.
Papers submitted by the Ministry of Defence state as the proposed development is anticipated to be below one hectare in total and located within the radar station, the works are “unlikely to result in any significant environmental effects”, so a time-consuming EIA is “not considered necessary”.
However, it adds: “Should the Yorkshire Wolds Escarpment be designated as an AONB, the proposed development should be considered as a sensitive area under the EIA regulations and further consideration should be taken.”
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