£82m barracks development revealed

MORE than 600 construction workers will be involved in the £82million development of a new Army barracks in Suffolk.There are currently 100 people demolishing asbestos-riddled, dilapidated buildings at Woodbridge Airfield.

By Richard Smith

MORE than 600 construction workers will be involved in the £82million development of a new Army barracks in Suffolk.

There are currently 100 people demolishing asbestos-riddled, dilapidated buildings at Woodbridge Airfield.

And when, a 65-hectare site has been cleared, construction workers - many from the Ipswich-based Jackson Group - will build new facilities for more than 600 soldiers.


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The new barracks, which have yet to be named, are scheduled for completion in May 2006 - and yesterday the Army said it was thrilled to be marching into Woodbridge.

A total of 630 soldiers from the four squadrons of the newly-formed 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) will come from Waterbeach, Ripon, Aldershot and Maidstone to Woodbridge.

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There will also be 200 more wives, partners and children living at the barracks.

The Engineers' wartime duties include removing obstacles, building bridges, blowing up infrastructure, giving engineering support and deploying military divers.

At the official launch of the construction project, Chris Tickell - commanding officer of the regiment - welcomed the Woodbridge development.

He said: "Every single one of the men I have spoken to, without exception, is looking forward to coming to this community.

"They know that the facilities are as much state of the art as we will get in the services at the moment and that will change their day to day lives.

"The airfield is in a lovely area and we want to provide and foster very close links with the community.

"We want to put into the community as much as we can."

The MOD was out in force at the airfield yesterday to attend a turf-cutting ceremony, which heralded the start on the project by Skanska UK.

Skanska has introduced numerous environmentally friendly measures into the project to ensure that the land, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is not spoilt.

All material from the demolition work will be recycled on site and the hardcore will be reused, cutting down dramatically on the number of lorries going to and from the airfield, four miles from Woodbridge.

Two rare birds - Nightjars and Woodlarks - need to be protected and Skanska will be transporting heathland from one part of the airfield to another to ensure that the birds' natural habitat is preserved.

James Macmillan, Skanska's environmental advisor, said asbestos was found in 80 buildings, which would be demolished.

During demolition water will be hosed onto material to stop dust rising and a ''quiet'' crusher is being used to eliminate noise disturbance for nearby residents and birds.

Holes have been made in roofs of redundant buildings to allow bats to escape and an infiltration pond will be made into a bigger nature reserve.

The airfield at Woodbridge will be retained but there are no plans to increase flying in the area.

The airfield opened in 1943 as one of three airfields set up to accept damaged or fuel-short bombers returning from raids over Germany.

The RAF abandoned the airfield in 1948 and it was taken over four years later by the American Air Force (USAF).

The biggest rescue unit in the world, the 67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, was based at Woodbridge before the USAF left the air base in 1993. Sandlings primary school opened two years later.

In 2000 the Army moved MOD families to new quarters near Ipswich and Hadleigh.

In recent years the airfield has been used for helicopter training and military exercises.

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