PLANS to create a new top-security compound inside a Hampshire military base which handles “secret equipment” have been unveiled.

Proposals to fence off part of the jetty area at Marchwood Military Port have been submitted by its commercial operator, which says the proposed storage area is needed for “national security purposes”.

Solent Gateway Ltd is also seeking consent to install state-of-the-art cameras around the edge of the new facility.

But mystery surrounds the reason why a high-security zone needs to be created inside a military establishment which is already heavily guarded.

Daily Echo:

The precise purpose of the compound is not revealed in Solent Gateway’s planning application to New Forest District Council.

A company spokesman said: “It will be up to the MoD to decide what will be stored there. However, I can confirm it will not be explosives or ammunition.

“It is standard practice on MoD sites to cater for differing security requirements. “

Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East, added: “It remains to be seen what they will tell us about this particular installation, but I regard it as an encouraging sign that Marchwood is going to remain an important part of our defence infrastructure.”

Marchwood county councillor David Harrison added: “It’s obviously very important that sites such as Marchwood Military Port are very secure.”

Solent Gateway, a civilian company partly owned by the Scottish government, took over the running of the port, also known as the Sea Mounting Centre, in 2016.

The MoD has leased the 225-acre base to the operator for 35 years.

Solent Gateway’s application says: “The proposal is to create a secure compound within Marchwood Military Port for national security purposes. The site is currently used for military containers and cargo throughput, including secret equipment.”

Daily Echo:

The council’s initial assessment of the proposal says: “The development would be consistent with policy and no adverse effects are apparent at this stage.”

A council spokesman told the Daily Echo: “The application accords fully with the long-term military use of the facility.

“We do not consider it to be a change of use so do not require the applicant to provide more information.”

The port is home to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment but is also used by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. Facilities include three jetties, the largest of which is 169 metres long.