The impact of two squadrons of F-35 Lightning jets and 1,200 airmen moving to RAF Lakenheath is ‘not forgotten’ by the council amid RAF Mildenhall closure shock
- Credit: citizenside.com
The potential impact of an extra 1,200 airmen and two squadrons of F-35 Lightning jets at RAF Lakenheath has not been forgotten, Forest Heath District Council stated yesterday.
The leader of the council, James Waters, has vowed to keep residents informed and make sure the area’s schools, highways and communities are ready.
He has moved to allay concerns that the publicity over the closure of RAF Mildenhall, announced at the same time, has not distracted the council from working on both issues.
With the closure of one US Air Force base in the district, the net loss of airmen is predicted to be around 2,000, with civilian jobs also lost.
Mr Waters said: “We have been swift to establish a lead role to ensure that our local communities and businesses have their say over the future of the Mildenhall site, and that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which owns the site, understands our desire for a quick decision.
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“Now, we need to have detailed discussions to fully understand the growth proposed for Lakenheath, and the impact that this move may have on our local residents.
“We need to understand the time scales envisaged for this expansion. We will then feed all of this information back to our communities.
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“We were all saddened by the Pentagon’s announcement that it is to close RAF Mildenhall. It has been important in the weeks since then, to look to the future and start the ground work, to bring residents, businesses, partners and politicians together to work in unity to ensure the area thrives long after the base closes.”
He stressed the importance of his involvement and influence in the government’s Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth working group, which is chaired by West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock, Minister for Business, and was set up to look into the future of the bases.
“We have also announced the dates for three meetings to discuss the impact of the Mildenhall closure with representatives from residents groups, parish councils and businesses,” he added.
“Amid all of this, however, the potential impact of the RAF Lakenheath expansion has not been forgotten. We will be seeking discussions with the USAF, Suffolk County Council who are responsible for schools and highways, and some of our other close partners over the coming months, to allow us to work with our communities in readiness for any change this expansion may bring.”