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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Bid to set-up £1m hi-tech testing site at RAF Spadeadam

Jobs could be secured with the prospect of more being created if hi-tech testing is given the go-ahead at a military range.

The GL Group is seeking planning permission for a new structure at its testing site at RAF Spadeadam, east of Brampton.

It is for a rig where engineers would carry out checks on hoses used in the oil and gas industry. If approved, the project would cost more than £1m to establish.

The company said this would help secure the jobs of the 50 people already working there and result in more job opportunities.

David Brown, the site’s general manager, said: “The Spadeadam test site is developing a number of additional services to both the oil and gas sector and the security industry, which requires us to look at expanding the test areas to be able to manage the increased workload.

“This has significant benefits in terms of employment not only in retaining our existing workforce but also in enabling new members of staff to join the Spadeadam team.”

Steve Reynolds, the facilities manager at Spadeadam, described the jobs as “high-skilled”.

The site tests a variety of equipment to see how it will perform in real-world situations.

Hoses are tested to see how they will perform in the long-term. They can be used to carry crude oil, liquid gas or other fluids. At Spadeadam, liquid nitrogen is passed through them and they are pulled into a different shapes and positions, as they would be when put into use.

Mr Reynolds said the risk of a leak is very low. If it did happen, however, staff nearby would not be able to breathe the air as it would be made almost entirely of nitrogen. The proposed new building would eliminate this risk altogether as it would be separate from the current structure and the hoses will be accessed remotely.

“It’s so we can do ‘lifetime’ testing,” Mr Reynolds said.

The positive jobs news for Spadeadam comes as uncertainty hangs over that of another Ministry of Defence site.

A fight is continuing to save 300 jobs at DM Longtown, where Defence Minister Philip Dunne is considering proposals to close the base in 2014, transferring its explosives-storage function to Kineton in Warwickshire.

His decision is due soon.

A planning application for the rig at Spadeadam, plus security fencing was submitted to Carlisle City Council on Friday. The target date for a decision is Friday, December 14.

The MoD and Kingwater parish council are statutory consultees for the application. Comments on the proposal can be made to the council under the planning section of its website, www.carlisle.gov.uk.

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