THE latest plans for the Royal Marines have raised new question marks about the future of the Hamworthy base.

Defence Minister Liam Fox has announced a long-term plan to move all the country’s Royal Marines into the south west.

However it has not yet been decided whether there will be consolidation of existing south west bases, which could lead to the closure of RM Poole, or whether units being moved into the area could be sent to Hamworthy, leading to its expansion.

Robert Syms, MP for Poole, said: “The Government has spent quite a lot of money at Hamworthy. Every time I talk to the officers there they say it would waste millions to try and move them.”

The base is home to around 820 naval servicemen. The units there include the Special Boat Service (SBS) and 148 Commando Artillery which works closely with the SBS.

However it is dwarfed by other Royal Marine bases in the south west.

The major Royal Marines presence at Plymouth, home to several units including 42 Commando, has been touted as the foundation for a ‘super-base’ that could soak up new arrivals.

Mr Syms said: “I think they could put more marine units into Poole but they are limited. There are bigger bases in the south west with more space.”

The Royal Marines are 7,000-strong – though that is expected to fall by several hundred in the defence cuts – and the majority are already in the south west.

Major exceptions include 45 Commando and The Fleet Protection Group, both based in Scotland.

Mr Syms said: “My guess is that these moves will never happen because there are more pressing matters to deal with.

“I think if there were real problems with Poole’s future one of the ministers would have phoned up and said there’s a question mark over it.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said they were unable to provide any information on how RM Poole fits into the plans. Decisions are expected in 2013.

Mr Syms also noted the return of the 20,000-strong British Army of the Rhine from Germany could lead to the army looking for space in bases like Poole.

However, he warned that if the Ministry of Defence was seeking capital receipts, the sale of the Poole base in a prime development area could prove too attractive.

Poole’s Royal Marine base was previously threatened with closure during reviews in 1995 and 2002.

As well as its special forces, it is also home to associated logistics, medical and transport staff and a detachment of the Royal Marines Reserve.

Another unit stationed there is 10 Landing Craft Training Squadron, a historic reminder of Poole’s days as a staging post to D-Day. It is set to move during 2012 to its parent unit in Devonport.