A ROW has erupted after politicians branded the proposed three-mile moving of a military base “a waste of public money”.

Gosport MP Caroline Dineage has said that the planned transfer of operations from HMS Sultan in Gosport, the primary engineering training establishment for the Royal Navy, to HMS Collingwood in Fareham will cost in excess of £350m.

HMS Sultan has been earmarked for closure by the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation as part of its better defence estate strategy, which includes the disposal of 91 sites across the UK by 2040.

The proposed closure in 2026 will affect 1,000 naval sailors, 200 civilian staff and 450 contractors.

Under the plans, the majority of operations will be moved to HMS Collingwood with the exception of some HR and submarine engineer training roles.

Ms Dineage said: “There is a strong case for retention of HMS Sultan in its present location on financial grounds alone.

“We estimated that it could cost at least £350m to move, yet as little as £100m to rebuild and improve accommodation at Sultan.

“If this is accurate, it could take well over 100 years to see any financial benefit from the site being disposed of.

“I want to discuss alternatives to the disposal of HMS Sultan whose sale would be to the detriment of Gosport, the Royal Navy, and the MOD.”

Councillor Stephen Philpott, chairman of the Gosport Borough Council economic board, said: “The move is not a sensible use of public money, it’s a vital part of the local economy.”

Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for economic development at Hampshire County Council, added: “The armed forces are an important part of Hampshire, both historically and as a significant contributor to employment opportunities and the economy.”

The news comes after Ms Dineage held a taskforce meeting on Wednesday between councillors, MOD representatives and the enterprise partnership.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: “It’s good news that the jobs will stay in the Fareham and Gosport area if HMS Sultan closes.”

In response, a Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "All sites announced under the ‘A Better Defence Estate’ Strategy are subject to further assessment studies and an update on estate optimisation is due to Parliament in Autumn 2017.

"However, we do not recognise the figure given for the cost of relocating the functions of HMS Sultan.”