Unused buildings will be demolished at RAF Menwith Hill

Menwith Hill
Menwith Hill

A number of unused buildings at RAF Menwith Hill will be demolished following the loss of around 500 military and civilian jobs last year.

Harrogate Borough Council approved the Ministry of Defence’s application to demolish the buildings at a Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, December 22.

One office building on Menwith Hill Road as well as two prefabricated buildings will be demolished as they are ‘no longer needed’ at the base.

However, squadron leader at Menwith Hill, Geoff Dickson, dismissed reports that the demolitions were a sign of more job losses expected at the base.

He said: “It’s very much a reaction to what’s happened before. This is an aftershock of the announcement in February last year and there are no more reductions.

“There are now surplus buildings on the site and it costs a lot of money to keep them running so it makes sense to demolish them.

“Nothing is finalised for the future but if we come across more buildings that are surplus to requirements we will look to demolish them as well.

“However the plan for the moment is to stabilise the work force. That’s the long term plan. Of course it could change but currently there are no plans to bring more people in or let more people go.”

The US military announced in February 2014 that 500 staff will leave Menwith Hill by October 2016 as the country scales back its defence budget.

In January 2015 the US Department of Defence quashed rumours of yet more cuts and made a commitment to RAF Menwith Hill in a review of requirements for bases for US forces in Europe.

However, Menwith Hill Elementary School and High School closed down in the summer with just 19 pupils graduating from the school in June.

Around half of the student’s total population are also thought to have left the Menwith Hill base with their families with enrolment at the school reported to be on a downward trend for five years.

In November 2013 the Ministry of Defence applied for planning permission to demolish 66 houses at the site near Darley, sparking rumours the base was being downsized.

There have been regular demonstrations organised by Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases opposing the presence American forces at Menwith Hill with Tuesday evening demonstrations taking place over 15 years.

RAF Menwith Hill was opened in 1960, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s the infrastructure and the number of personnel at the site continued to expand. The one-square-mile base is owned by the Ministry of Defence and made available to the US Department of Defense.