UPDATED: Peace group fighting to shut military base

Protestors at RAF Croughton in 2007
Protestors at RAF Croughton in 2007
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A peace group is staging its biggest protest yet to fight a £200 million upgrade at a military and intelligence base.

RAF Croughton is a former bomber base and is now fully operated by the USA.

It wants to intensify its top secret information channelling role between the Americans and the rest of the world with the multi-million pound development.

But Oxfordshire Peace Campaign has organised a march and rally to challenge its activities and are expecting a crowd of more than 100 protestors.

The group’s secretary Chris Brennan said: “It’s the secrecy and unaccountability we don’t like.

“The short term goal is to raise awareness but the long term goal is to close it down.

“They are not providing anything of benefit to this country and there is no control over what they do – that is the biggest gripe.

“It’s not providing extra security.”

The base is already a major communications site involved in worldwide military war operations and diplomatic traffic and are involved in communications with US drones operating in Somalia and Yemen.

Reports in The Independent newspaper in May said after the upgrade, the Croughton base could be staffed by 1,250 personnel covering operations in Africa – a current focus for US counter-terrorism activities.

The day of the protest is the start of Keep Space For Peace Week and Drones Action Week.

Mr Brennan said the group has been campaigning at RAF Croughton for the past 11 years but this year’s will be ‘double the size’.

He said: “We as UK citizens have no say and they have a carte blanche to do what they want so it is difficult.

“The upgrade makes it worse but we would still be protesting – we’ll just do a bigger one.”

Mr Brennan added the group always writes an open letter to the base commander but has never had a reply.

The march will start at noon on October 4 at the eastern edge of Croughton village, leading to a rally with speakers, food and peace cabaret at the main gate of RAF Croughton until 3pm.

In addition to the upgrade plans, construction has already begun for a £6.7 million medical and dental facility to include treatment rooms, laboratories and offices.

It will be run by the 422nd US Air Force Medical Squadron once VINCI Construction UK completes the building work and is due for completion in April 2015.