Military training site options remain open

Last updated 13:30 02/05/2014

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The New Zealand Defence Force is remaining tight-lipped on where it will shift its training base after the lease on Dip Flat at the top of the South Island expires early next year.

The Express understands sites in the Marlborough Sounds, Molesworth and the Awatere have been identified as potential training grounds, however a Defence Force spokesman would not confirm this.

"We are still assessing potential sites therefore are unable to confirm whether or not we are looking at specific properties at this stage," he said.

A new training base would ideally be within two hours of Base Woodbourne in Blenheim, however it was not a fixed requirement, he said.

The lease between the Defence Force and the primary leaseholder expires in February 2015.

The Defence Force was negotiating with the primary leaseholder, believed to be Nelson businessman Tom Sturgess, on options to continue training at Dip Flat.

Sturgess told the Express yesterday leasing the land back to the Defence Force was a possibility, but wouldn't comment further.

Some buildings would be left at the site, including three huts that sleep eight people, as part of the lease agreement, the spokesman said.

It was not known what the leaseholder intended to do with the buildings.

Other buildings might be left or sold to the leaseholder, but it had not yet been decided. Some machinery, plant and chattel items might also be "made available" to the leaseholder, the spokesman said.

"They are likely to be items of limited use to [the Defence Force], items that are not economic to relocate, and items that are of value to the purchaser," he said.

Dip Flat, at the base of the St Arnaud Range near Nelson Lakes National Park, is used for practical military training for the Command and Recruit Training Squadron.

The recruits usually do a 10-day stint at Dip Flat as part of their 13-week basic training.

While there, they learn the basics of setting up camp, radio communication, obstacle course, military patrols, night patrols, camouflage training, rifle range exercises, as well as three days' practical training away from Dip Flat.

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