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MoD edges closer to decision on King’s Lines fuel depot

Screengrab of Commodore Tom Guy during his interview with GBC on Viewpoint. Image via GBC

The Ministry of Defence appears poised to reactivate the King’s Lines fuel depot located beneath the Northern Defences as part of wider defence investment in Gibraltar and other overseas territories.

Military planners have been exploring the possibility for months and have now confirmed that the fuel depot would be put to good use if it was up and running.

But the infrastructure has lain unused for many years and a detailed assessment of its condition, including pipelines connecting it to the Naval Base, is being carried out before a final decision is taken on the project.

Speaking on GBC’s Viewpoint, however, Commodore Tom Guy, the Commander British Forces, indicated the project was likely to go ahead.

“We're looking to reinstate that now,” he said of the fuel depot, adding the assessment on demand for the facility “is pretty much there”.

“There's a bit more work to do before we absolutely confirm that's what we're going to do,” he added.

“We have to make sure that the actual infrastructure that is left behind there that is in good enough state, the pipework and all that sort of stuff.”

The proposal for King’s Lines is one of several investment projects that the MoD is undertaking in Gibraltar.

Others include refurbishing infrastructure on the South Mole and modernising the communications system linking all of the MoD sites on the Rock.

There are also plans to carry out dredging in the Naval Base and further invest in training facilities that are increasingly in demand by UK-based troops.

Since the end of the Cold War, the MoD had cut back on investment in Gibraltar.

But that changed in 2021 following publication of a post-Brexit foreign and defence policy that placed a focus on “persistent engagement” overseas and placed greater emphasis on the role of the UK’s strategic hubs around the globe, including Gibraltar.

Already Gibraltar has seen investment in many areas of military activity, from a revamp of facilities at Windmill Hill and radar equipment at the top of the Rock, to new purpose-built boats for the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron.

The decision to base HMS Trent, one of the Royal Navy’s newest offshore patrol vessels, in Gibraltar is also part of that wider picture, and means the crew can get the support they need and get back out to operations in their assigned area without having to return to the UK.

In practice, the review reversed “reversed the trajectory” of military planning here, Cdre Guy said.

The developments come against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and increased awareness of regional conflicts elsewhere, including in sub-Saharan Africa.

“I think what the war in Ukraine has done is to sort of wake everybody up to the potential for further instability and the value of resilience,” Cdre Guy said.

“And that's where Gibraltar really can add a huge amount of value in being a more resilient forward mounting base, having a bit of capacity to deal with the unexpected.”

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