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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 11: 99: Greenham Common
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Wednesday, 10 November, 1999, 17:44 GMT
New Greenham Common: Industrial park and nature reserve

In 1997, the Greenham Common Trust was set up to buy the former air base.

Its aims and achievements have been to develop the New Greenham Common business park on the site and to restore the common land.

Greenham Common industrial estate The new site
The 7m purchase was funded mostly with a bank loan and a smaller loan from West Berkshire Council (which at the height of the Cold War and peace camp days was known as Newbury District Council).

More than 1,000 acres of countryside was immediately transferred to the council for a nominal sum, while the rest of the site was dedicated to the development of the 150 acre business park.

The common land is scheduled to be open to the public by summer 2000, and its restoration is being funded by the New Greenham Common business park.

The barracks have now been demolished and the runways have been recycled - the concrete used in schemes such as building a local school- and grassed over.

The one millionth tonne of recyclable material is due to be taken away from the site within the next couple of days. According to the trust, more than 1,000 people are now employed in the site's 125 businesses.

The park's 2.5m Enterprise Centre - which offers office and workshop starter units - was opened in the summer of 1999.

The barracks have been demolished, the runways recycled and grassed over
Greenham Common Trust

Like the rest of the business park, profit from them is ploughed into community projects and charities.

The park has also been granted a Millennium Festival Large Award of 20,000 to "assist with the production of an arts centre in New Greenham Park and the creation of a major piece of public art".

"Changes" by Gundrun Nielson to be installed at the main entrance to the business park.

A statement published by the Greenham Common Trust in July said: "Greenham Common was once one of the most important strategic military sites in the world.

"It has an enormously powerful history - during the 1980s it was the focus of one of the largest women's peace protests in British history.

"Now the old Sergeant's mess has been transformed into a community art centre, and the local branch of MENCAP now bases itself in the old courthouse.

"Within 12 months the public will be able to walk over the taxiway which saw the arrival of US cruise missiles being flown in during the Cold War.

"English Nature, the RSPB and other wildlife organisations are being consulted on how to encourage the most diverse range of species to the common."

A spokesman for West Berkshire Council said: " In addition to the recycling of all metals, tarmac and concrete, the council is dealing with fuel pollution associated with the airbase fuel system on site, using a process of Bioremediation. Microbes are encourage to breakdown the fuels in the gravels, thereby cleaning them.

" The restoration will eventually result in 500 hectares of countryside, rich in wildlife, being open to the public and protected by the Local Act of Parliament which the council is currently promoting."

The Chairman of West Berkshire Council, Jeremy Cottam, said: "West Berkshire is proud of what it is achieving on this site. Restoration and recycling is rarely practised on this scale and to such great effect. We look forward to the day when the perimeter fence finally comes down and local people can once again roam the Commons."

The last caravan of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp is sited near to the entrance to what is now the industrial park, and was once the main gate to the air base.

Its occupants have succeeded in gaining planning permission to erect a permanent memorial and garden to the women of the peace camp.

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