Aero-group considers Suffolk switch

A LARGE aero-engineering firm considering possible relocations sites, including RAF Mildenhall, said yesterday it would be considering the issue “purely on the business case”.

A LARGE aero-engineering firm considering possible relocations sites, including RAF Mildenhall, said yesterday it would be considering the issue “purely on the business case”.

A site by the Suffolk airbase and one at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire are both being looked at as possible future locations for Cambridge-based Marshall Aerospace, which employs 1700 people, but studies are still in the early stages.

Independent consultancy firm Arup, in collaboration with Cambridgeshire Horizons, have been studying potential alternative sites for the business, which is based at Cambridge City Airport, after Cambridge City Council designated some of the firm's airport land for housing.

Seven years ago, the company said it would not object to the council putting houses on the structure plan, subject to a suitable location being identified that they could consider moving to and that would meet their needs, a Marshall spokesman explained.


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Studies have been under way for the last four or five years to see if there is a local site that fulfils their requirements.

“At the moment, it has been narrowed down to RAF Mildenhall to have a little bit of land off the American base but with access to the airfield, or RAF Wyton,” he said.

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“We are talking about a potential move in nine or ten years' time.”

In the meantime, they were continue to grow the business, which maintains, modifies and repairs a range of aircraft, and had just secured a £1.52billion contract for Hercules maintenance over the next 25 years, he said.

“The airfield itself is flourishing and we are continuing to grow our business,” he said.

The spokesman made it clear that studies were continuing into identifying a possible suitable location, and they had yet to determine whether either the Mildenhall or Wyton site were viable.

“Until the studies are concluded, I can't even comment on what might or might not be,” he said.

“We have yet to determine whether they are viable or not.”

Any decision to move in the future would be made on the business case for it, he said.

“The decision to move won't be made on the basis of helping a deprived area or with political consideration. The decision will be made purely on the business case - is it cost-effective, sensible, to move our business to a particular location in order that the business will continue to flourish and grow as it has done in the past?” he said.

“Forest Heath and Brandon is a very deprived area in terms of employment. The local council are very keen to attract work or business into the area. I don't think that will be a factor in our considerations at all.”

Forest Heath District Council said it would “very much welcome” Marshall Aerospace if they chose to move to Mildenhall.

“We believe such a move would bring employment opportunities and long-term prosperity to the area and would also reinforce the district's established links with the aircraft industry,” a spokesperson said.

“Forest Heath District Council is part of the steering group, which includes Cambridgeshire Horizons, GO East, Suffolk County, Huntingdonshire District, Cambridge City and Cambridgeshire County Councils working closely with Marshall Aerospace to consider possible relocation sites.

“The steering group is being briefed on the emerging findings of the study being undertaken by consultancy firm Arup.”

Arup was commissioned in December last year to look at the feasibility of the two locations, RAF Mildenhall and RAF Wyton, including commercial and operational matters and their impacts on the neighbouring environment, roads and local communities, the spokesperson said.

“Any decisions about relocation and future sites will be made by Marshall Aerospace,” she added.

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