CONSTRUCTION is on the verge of starting at the new Ministry of Defence training college in Lyneham after Defence Minister Andrew Murrison turned the first heap of earth. The site is being cleared before building starts in March.

Mr Murrison said: “It was really great to have the opportunity to turn the first sod at the new college in Lyneham. “It’s really interesting to get out and see how things are progressing rather than just looking at all the plans.”

The new college will bring technical training for the Army, Navy and the RAF into one location to provide a more efficient and cost-effective way of providing the training.

Commodore David Elford, who will be the Commandant at the new college, said: “I think it’s fantastic that construction is about to start. It’s evidence of some real progress to create a cost-effective and flexible training college.” The work is set to create 900 construction jobs in the area.

The first phase of work, which will be completed by autumn 2015, will include building single living accommodation for more than 1,000 trainees and staff, purpose-built teaching facilities and an outdoor training area.

The construction is being led by Hercules, a joint venture between Kier Group and Balfour Beatty plc. Richard Collin, a senior project manager at Hercules, said: “Everybody is really, really excited about what’s going on here. “Hercules is delighted to have been awarded this major tri-services strategic training facilities project.”

There will also be a museum accessible to the public for the Army’s Corp of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers where Lyneham’s history and association with the repatriations in recent years will be remembered.

There will also be a garden of remembrance specially built for the families of those who used the chapel of rest when the bodies of their loved ones who served in Afghanistan and the Iraq War were repatriated through Lyneham.