New Zealand Defence Force plans Investment At Base Woodbourne In Marlborough

22 August 2016

Marlborough's air force base is getting an upgrade as part of a new billion-dollar defence force investment plan.

The government will spend up to $1.7 billion upgrading defence force assets by 2030, and $28 million has been set aside for RNZAF Base Woodbourne, on the outskirts of Blenheim.

The Defence Estate Regeneration plan outlined three projects planned for Base Woodbourne.

A new air field security fence and a new fire rescue building are planned for the base, and $15m has been budgeted in case the field training ground needs to be moved.

A New Zealand Defence Force spokeswoman said the funding to replace the Dip Flat training ground, at the base of the St Arnaud Range, was set aside in case their lease of the land ended and was not renewed.

She would not say who the owner was, and would only respond via email.

"It is a private landowner and it's not up to us to disclose who that is," the spokeswoman said.

The rugged outdoor training area was used for practical military field training and mountain flying training.

Dip Flat would continue to be a training ground used by the defence force for the immediate future, the spokeswoman said.

She would not say when the lease was due to end.

"We have lease arrangements in place so we can continue to operate in the same area as we do now for the immediate future. The investment was set aside as part of contingency planning if that situation changed. There is flexibility to adjust the programme of works or when projects start depending on the requirements at Woodbourne. That level of detail is still being worked through."

The new air field fence would cost up to $3m and planning would start next year.

A new fire rescue building would cost up to $10 million, and planning would start in 2020.

It would be placed in a better location than the existing building where there was more space, the spokeswoman said.

The defence force was also planning projects such as a new main gate and entranceway to the base, hazardous waste storage, and upgrades to engineer training workshops and the base headquarters building, she said.

Those projects would start in the next six years.

"More detail will become available as the projects progress through the scoping and planning stages."

The base commander was not available for comment.

Base Woodbourne, once a hub for basic training, became a technical training support base for recruits and officers in a nationwide military restructure in 2010.

During the restructure, staff had to reapply for their jobs, and the future of the base was brought into question.

The spokeswoman said there would be no job losses at Base Woodbourne.

"RNZAF Base Woodbourne will continue for the foreseeable future to be a place where cadet training takes place."

The bulk of the government's investment went to operational bases in Auckland, Manawatu and Canterbury.

At Ohakea Airforce Base in the Manawatu, projects included a covered refuelling area, logistics warehouse, and the replacement of a taxiway.

At Burnham, in Canterbury, a health and rehabilitation centre and upgrades to communications and electrical network and storage was planned.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said many of the 5000 buildings on defence land were old and needed to be upgraded.

"Work on the 81,000-hectare defence estate is needed to make it fit for purpose and operating as efficiently and effectively as possible," Brownlee said.


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