James at The Springfields Academy
James with representatives of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards during a Welcome Home Event for 20th Armoured Brigade
James Gray MP with representatives from Google and The Countryside Alliance Foundation
James Gray MP welcoming representatives of 20th Armoured Brigade to Parliament
The Government responded to his questions by saying they are actively considering basing operations of the Joint Helicopter Command at RAF Lyneham, but that the decision had been delayed as a result of an unforeseen range of a complex range of variables and uncertainties.Read on to see the text of Mr Gray's question in full and the Minister's response.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what standard of accommodation is being planned for Joint Helicopter Command under Project Belvedere; what criteria are being used to make the decision; and what the cost would be of upgrading RAF Lyneham to (a) Royal Air Force, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Army accommodation standards; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the cost to date of Programme Belvedere; 
(3) what the reasons are for the time taken to announce the outcome of Programme Belvedere; 
(4) what criteria will be used in selecting an airfield for Joint Helicopter Command under Programme Belvedere; 
(5) who in his Department has lead responsibility for Programme Belvedere; 
(6) who in his Department is responsible for ensuring that Programme Belvedere adheres to its timetable; 
(7) how long he expects production of the environmental impact assessment on the airfield to be selected for Joint Helicopter Command under Programme Belvedere to take; 
(8) how long he expects the process of costing the outcome selected by Programme Belvedere to take. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Belvedere Programme is considering future basing options for the Joint Helicopter Command.
Under the strategic direction of the Defence Operating Board and a three Star military officer (the Senior Responsible Owner), the Belvedere Team Leader has day to day responsibility for the programme timetable.
The range of variables and programme uncertainties has been more complex than originally envisaged, and has inevitably had an impact on the time taken to undertake the work. The criteria against which judgments are made, for both individual airfields and combinations of airfields, include:
operating issues including aircraft numbers, command and control and flying hours; environmental issues including noise,
availability and standard of domestic and technical accommodation;
accessibility for aircraft and vehicle types; aircraft capacity of the airfield;
opportunities for efficiencies and rationalisation;
airfield location—low flying areas, training areas and local communities;
future requirements; and,
affordability and value for money.
The costs of Belvedere since it was reconstituted in June 2007 have been a little under £2 million. In addition, around £2 million has been spent on essential maintenance works at RAF Lyneham to ensure that its existing infrastructure can remain viable if Belvedere concludes that the station should be retained.
No decisions have been taken on the number of bases required, nor therefore, of any accommodation requirements at RAF Lyneham. Any new accommodation would be provided to common joint-Service standards.
Baseline noise and environmental impact assessments have been made for each of the sites being considered by Programme Belvedere. A full environmental assessment following selection of a particular option would take 11-12 months. The programme would then be delivered through a series of individual projects. Future costs would depend upon the option chosen.
The future of the Belvedere Programme is currently under consideration at senior levels within the Department.
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