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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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North Cumbria industrial park plan could bring thousands of jobs

Moves are afoot to reinvent part of Longtown’s closure-threatened munitions depot as an industrial park, potentially creating thousands of jobs.

Peter Luff photo
Defence minister Peter Luff

Cumbria County Council leader Eddie Martin is calling for the Ministry of Defence to release surplus land and buildings for commercial use.

He believes Longtown could emulate the success of Kingmoor Park, in Carlisle, established on the former RAF 14MU supplies depot that closed in the mid 1990s. Conservative Mr Martin put the case to Defence Minister Peter Luff who visited DM Longtown last week.

He said: “There are 252 buildings on that site and 204 are not needed [by the MoD] and could be released.

“The minister seemed reasonably impressed. I got the feeling that he wasn’t averse to the scenario.”

Like 14MU, DM Longtown is contaminated making it unsuitable for housing. But with remediation measures it would be fit for business use.

It has the benefit of being close to the M6/M74, has a link to the rail network and is in line to get a superfast broadband connection.

The MoD is proposing to close DM Longtown in 2014 with the loss of 300 jobs.

Mr Luff is due to announce his decision by the end of the year. Unions and politicians, including local MPs Rory Stewart, John Stevenson and David Mundell, told him it was vital to retain the depot to protect jobs and safeguard national security.

Mr Martin fears the 1,200-acre site will be abandoned if the MoD pulls out.

He said: “The danger is that we will be left with a heavily-contaminated site, a no-man’s land on which nothing happens for years and years.

“We experienced that with Derwent Forest [in west Cumbria]. The county council and Allerdale bought it from the MoD. It has taken us 10 years to find anyone to take it on.”

Mr Martin has since written to Mr Luff, asking him again to reprieve the depot to “allow us time to establish an appropriate task force to develop proposals for the area”.

He believes that, if the MoD makes a “reasonable contribution” towards decontamination costs, the council could bid for European funding to redevelop released land.

He told the News & Star: “We have an extremely-good case.”

The council is also suggesting that DM Longtown could handle 8,000 containers of munitions returning from Afghanistan when British troops withdraw in 2014.

It says these could be handled by the port of Workington then transferred by rail to Longtown.

Have your say

A good strategic asset for the city and county council to focus on.As well as giving some much needed competition to Kingmoor Park ;a desparate need to kick start a Longtown revival could well materialise.

Some continued military use on part of the 1200 acre site would also be most welcomed.

Overall- go for it!

Posted by Cumberland Sausage on 23 August 2012 at 21:58

there are already at least five haulage depots at longtown robert

Posted by batman on 23 August 2012 at 15:07

View all 5 comments on this article

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