The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has updated the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme, designed to ensure 33 military site upgrades across the country to meet future military requirements.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson made the announcement and also confirmed the UK MOD will invest £1.5bn to bring the 33 military estates, including air force bases, up to code, and ensure that they meet the standards required to support service personnel and their families.

Williamson said: “We have already committed £4bn to optimise our military sites and today’s update will ensure our estate continues to fulfil our needs and support our people for the next five years.

“By providing further clarity on the future of key sites, not only will we protect our national security and support military objectives, but we will provide more stable employment and education opportunities for military families.”

The five-year military site upgrades plan is an add-on to the 25-year Better Defence Estates Programme, which was produced in 2016, and included a total investment of £4bn in improving military estates.

Williamson also named some of the bases that will be retained in the plan, including RM Chivenor and Norton Manor Camp in Devon, RM Condor airfield in Scotland, Rock Barracks in Suffolk and RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

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“Delivering the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme to create a smaller, more modern and capability-focused estate is a priority for the MOD and DIO.”

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood added: “When improving the defence estate we have always strived to achieve the right balance between working with local communities, achieving value for money and making sure our Armed Forces have what they require to protect our people and promote our prosperity.

“This update will give our service personnel the certainty to put down permanent roots and fully integrate with the local community.”

The defence estate takes up 1.8% of the UK’s land mass. The MOD aims to reduce the size of the defence estate and open up the sites that are no longer needed for commercial use.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is responsible for reintroducing vacated military sites for civilian use, and is in talks with local authorities on how best to use the sites.

DIO chief executive Graham Dalton said: “Delivering the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme to create a smaller, more modern and capability-focused estate is a priority for the MOD and DIO.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Defence and we continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders, including devolved administrations both in areas where sites are closing but also towns that will welcome new enhanced garrisons and camps.”