FIFTY jobs are being created by a civilian operator that has finally been given the go-ahead to run one of Hampshire’s biggest military bases.

Solent Gateway Ltd is planning to employ recruit dozens of employees to help it manage Marchwood Military Port, which has been leased to the company by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Last night Solent Gateway confirmed it will take full control of port operations on October 1.

As reported in the Daily Echo the formal handover but was due to have been completed in April but was put on hold as negotiations with the MoD dragged on.

The deal has now been signed and the company is looking to recruit civilian port operators, some of whom must be prepared as army reservists.

Marchwood is home to 165 Port and Maritime Regiment, which loads and unloads Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels supplying British troops on operations overseas.

Interim port director Brian Fulton said: “We are now in position to start recruiting key people.

“For the majority of the time these employees will be based at Marchwood but there will be occasions when they are mobilised as army reservists.

“As part of their army reserve role they could potentially undertake deployments lasting up to six months anywhere in the world.”

Marchwood will continue to operate as a military support facility but commercial activities are also likely to take place on the 330-acre site.

Solent Gateway’s chairman, Sam Judah, said: “Full details of our longer-term commercial plans for the port are still being worked through and these will be shared with the local community as we familiarise ourselves with the project and start to look at what will be feasible.

“Meanwhile we will be concentrating on the core function of supporting army operations at Marchwood.

“The port presents significant opportunities for additional commercial development and further job opportunities on site.

“However, we appreciate the sensitivities of the local environment and any plans we have will be shared locally when we are in a position to do so.”

Marchwood councillor David Harrison said: “The prospect of 50 new jobs will be widely welcomed, with local people hoping that many more will follow.

“However, I have some anxiety that Solent Gateway are firming up their plans before talking to locally-elected representatives.”