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Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group rules out IWM Duxford as its new home

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Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has ruled out moving to IWM Duxford, leaving just two potential locations on the shortlist for its new home.

Cambridge Airport (27349030)
Cambridge Airport (27349030)

The company intends to move out of Cambridge by 2030 in order to continue its growth and had identified a potential site to the south-west of the existing airfield at Duxford.

But regulations mean it would have been necessary to reclassify the airspace above the buildings it would move into as a no-fly zone, which would have ruled out aerobatic displays on the airfield.

The decision leaves RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire and Cranfield in Bedfordshire as the remaining options on Marshall’s shortlist meaning the company will be heading further afield from its current sites at Cambridge Airport and off Newmarket Road.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group CEO, Alistair McPhee, comments: “We had identified an area of land at IWM Duxford situated to the far South-West of the existing airfield that did not impact areas of historical interest or require complex infrastructure upgrades.

Alistair McPhee, CEO of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group
Alistair McPhee, CEO of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group

“Initially this appeared to be an ideal location, giving us more than enough space to accommodate existing and future requirements, however as we progressed our due diligence we hit a very significant challenge in terms of the need for reclassification of airspace that would have made any sort of aerobatics from the airfield virtually impossible.

“As part of our operational discussions with IWM and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) it became apparent that the airspace above our buildings would need to be classified as a no-fly zone. This, along with the existing restrictions over Duxford village, would massively restrict the ability for historic aircraft to take off safely for air display and we said at the outset that we would not engage in a plan that in any way compromised the historical integrity of the site.

Action from Duxford Air Festival 2019 at the IWM during the Saturday airshow. Picture: Keith Heppell. (27349102)
Action from Duxford Air Festival 2019 at the IWM during the Saturday airshow. Picture: Keith Heppell. (27349102)

“In partnership with IWM we have worked very hard to find a way around this challenge by either re-routing the take-off, flight path and landing of aircraft participating in displays but unfortunately none of these options have proved feasible.

“We’ve also looked at alternative locations within the existing IWM campus but again have not been able to find a viable option and therefore, very reluctantly, both parties have now agreed that all possible avenues have been explored.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team from IWM and members of local government for all of the support and hard work they have put into this project and I know they are as disappointed as we are that we could not find a way to make it work.”

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (27348953)
Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (27348953)

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, which employs 1,800 people across the UK, Canada, Europe and the Middle East, said it is “confident” it will confirm the site for its new home this year.

Moving out will unlock land in the east of Cambridge for up to 12,000 homes and commercial space.

The company, which has major defence contracts with air forces around the world, is part of Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Ltd, the private holding company of the Marshall family. Founded in 1909, the group had a £2.5billion turnover in 2018 and employs more than 5,500 people.

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