NORTON Manor Camp is to close in 2028, the Defence Secretary has announce.

In a speech to the House of Commons, Sir Michael Fallon made the announcement that 56 Ministry of Defence sites are set to close across the UK, including the base at Norton Fitzwarren.

The camp is home to the 40 Commando Royal Marines, and it is believed that the camp will close and they will be moving to the Plymouth area.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow spoke in the Commons and urged the minster to fill the economic hole that would be left by the closure of the camp.

She told the County Gazette: I fully understand the important and historic role that 40 Commando plays in our community and I know that many in Taunton Deane will be very sad to see them go, personally I will be one of them.

"For many years we have taken pride in knowing that the finest servicemen and women in world live and train in Taunton with fine civilian team helping to keep the show on the road.

"Yesterday I had extended conversations with the Minister about the transfer and he assured me that this decision was taken on military advice by the Royal Marines themselves who can see the advantages of being grouped closer together.

"This tied in with the savings of a more streamlined and cost effective defence estate makes the decision the sensible in the long-term.

"I would like to stress that there will be no job cuts and this move will provide greater stability for families as they will be able to put down roots in a permanent location.

"On the floor of the House of Commons I asked the Secretary of State to ensure that very careful consideration was given to those serving, as well as their families, during the transfer to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

"I also urged him to work with the local authority and me as the local MP and local community take advantage of the economic opportunity offered by the release of the site for development. 

"I appreciate that many will be in shock at this decision and I recognise the sadness that this will bring, but please be assured that as the local MP I will do everything I can to ensure this transfer is handled appropriately.”

The marines have been involved in some large operations, including the Falklands conflict, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The closure is in addition to the sale of 35 MoD sites that had previously been announced.

Taunton Deane Borough Council Leader, Cllr John Williams, has also expressed his dismay at the Government decision to close Norton Manor Camp.

Cllr Williams said the camp which is home to the 40 Commando Royal Marines is part of Taunton’s identity and would be sorely missed.

“It is extremely disappointing to hear that Taunton will be losing its long association with the Royal Marines. We have enjoyed strong links with 40 Commando over the years and the people of Taunton share our great respect and appreciation of them.

The unit was given the Freedom of the Borough – the highest honour the Council can confer – in 2003, and exercised that Freedom by parading through the town to a heroes’ welcome when they returned from active service in war-torn Afghanistan in 2007.

Cllr Williams said: “There is no doubt that the loss of so many individuals and families will have an impact on Taunton’s economy and we must all work together to minimise the impact of that.

"The Council will work with other authorities and Rebecca Pow MP to look at how best the future of the site may be safeguarded to benefit our local community and economy.

We must seek to maximise the benefits from the huge area of Norton Manor Camp that will remain, and try to establish what is best for the future and our community.”

Sir Michael said the estate was too big and costly to run, with the latest batch of closures paving the way for a more modern military.

He said it would deliver better value for money and release enough land to build 55,000 homes. 

He told the Commons: "This strategy looks ahead to 2040 to provide a better defence estate.

"An estate that supports a more efficient and effective military capability; an estate that gives our armed forces a world class base from which to work, and an estate that helps defence keep Britain safe and to promote our prosperity."

It is estimated that about £140m will be saved over the next decade by selling off the sites, which Sir Michael said would be reinvested in creating "areas of military expertise" in locations across the country.

"By putting money where it is needed, we will provide better facilities to train our armed forces and deliver more stability for military families," he said.

Sir Michael said it was part of a package of more than £4bn of investment to create a better defence estate for the UK armed forces and their families.

Taunton Deane LibDems' Gideon Amos has slammed the Government announcement as terrible news for the town and for the economy.

He said: "With the plummeting value of the pound, rising prices and unprecedented economic uncertainty the Government response should be all about investing in strengthening our public services and the local employment they provide."

"Instead the Conservative Government has dealt a blow to the heart of Taunton which will take decades to heal.

"The economic effects of this short-sighted decision will be felt far and wide. What is needed now is a commitment that some of the financial savings made should go towards the jobs, training and lasting economic development in our town."

Here is a full list of sites earmarked for closure, as well as the date the Ministry of Defence is due to dispose of them.

Royal Navy

:: Royal Marines Condor Airfield, Arbroath, 2020

:: HMS Nelson Wardroom, Portsmouth, 2021

:: Royal Marines Stonehouse, Plymouth, 2023

:: The Royal Citadel, Plymouth, 2024

:: HMS Sultan, Gosport, 2024-2026

:: Chivenor Airfield and Barracks, Devon, 2027

:: Norton Manor Camp, Somerset, 2028

Army

:: Buckley Barracks (Hullavington Airfield), Chippenham, 2016

:: Chalgrove Airfield, Oxford, 2016

:: Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury, 2016

:: Somerset Barracks, Somerset, 2016

:: Abercorn Barracks, County Down, 2018

:: Craigiehall, Edinburgh, 2018

:: Catterick Town Centre Parcel, Catterick, 2018

:: Harden Barracks (Duchess Of Kent Psychiatric Hospital), Catterick, 2018

:: Burgoyne Barracks, Folkestone, 2019

:: Claro Barracks, Ripon, 2019

:: Fitzwygram House (Royal Army Veterinary Corps Centre), Hampshire, 2019

:: Commander And Staff Trainer (North), Catterick, 2020

:: Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow, 2020

:: Kneller Hall, Twickenham, 2020

:: Parsons Barracks, Donnington, 2020

:: Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, Grantham, 2020

:: St George's Barracks, North Luffenham, 2021

:: Venning Barracks, Donnington, 2020

:: Middlewick Ranges, Colchester, 2020

:: Chilwell Station, Nottingham, 2021

:: Queen Elizabeth Barracks, North Yorkshire, 2021

:: Sir John Moore Barracks, Winchester, 2021

:: Towthorpe Lines, Towthorpe, 2021

:: Thornhill Barracks, Aldershot, 2021

:: Clive Barracks, Shropshire, 2022

:: Fulwood Barracks, Preston, 2022

:: Kinnegar Logistic Base, County Down, 2023

:: Meadowforth Barracks (HQ 51 Highland Brigade), Stirling, 2022

:: Redford Cavalry Barracks, Edinburgh, 2022

:: Redford Infantry Barracks, Edinburgh, 2022

:: Dale Barracks, Chester, 2023

:: Aldershot Distribution Outlet, Aldershot, 2024

:: Cawdor Barracks, Pembrokeshire, 2024

:: Leighton House (AOSB Westbury), Westbury, 2024

:: Southwick Park, Portsmouth, 2025

:: Brecon Barracks, Wales, 2027

:: Beachley Barracks, Wales, 2027

:: Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone, 2027

:: MoD Woodbridge (Rock Barracks), Ipswich, 2027

:: St David's Barracks, Bicester, 2028

:: Vauxhall Barracks, Didcot, 2028

:: Woolwich Station, London, 2028

:: Buckley Barracks (Hullavington Barracks), Wiltshire, 2029

:: Dalton Barracks including Abingdon Airfield, Abingdon, 2029

:: Azimghur Barracks, Wiltshire, 2031

:: Carver Barracks, Saffron Walden, 2031

:: Dishforth Barracks (Airfield), North Yorkshire, 2031

:: Imphal Barracks, York, 2031

:: Robertson Barracks, Norfolk, 2031

:: Fort George, Scotland, 2032

:: Glencorse Barracks, Scotland, 2032

RAF

:: Swansea Airport, Swansea, 2016

:: Moat House, 2017

:: Newtonards Airfield, County Down, 2017

:: RAF Colerne Airfield, Wiltshire, 2018

:: RAF Henlow Technical Site and Airfield, Bedfordshire, 2020

:: 1300 Parkway, Bristol, 2020

:: RAF Barnham, Norfolk, 2020

:: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, 2022

:: RAF Halton Airfield, Aylesbury, 2022

:: RAF Molesworth, Cambridgeshire, 2023

:: RAF Alconbury, Cambridgeshire, 2023