COLCHESTER’S MP has launched a bid for Government cash to turn part of a firing range into a country park when another part of the site is developed for housing.

Part of Middlewick Ranges has been earmarked for as many as 1,000 homes when the Ministry of Defence closes the site in the coming months.

But Colchester MP Will Quince has now written to the Government’s environment boss George Eustace asking for cash from the £40 million Green Recovery Challenge fund to turn the area not developed for housing into a public open space or country park.

The package is part of Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson’s plan for a “green industrial revolution” which he hopes will see new cars and vans entirely powered by petrol banned from being on sale within ten years.

In his letter to Mr Eustace, Mr Quince said the area was “a fantastic area of green space” which needed to be preserved despite plans for housing.

Mr Quince said: “The MoD is committed to selling approximately half the site for housing.

“I have always publicly maintained I found the decision deeply regrettable, however, following meetings I understand the clear rationale behind the decision, notably the lack of need for two firing ranges in such close proximity and the desire to upgrade range facilities at Fingringhoe.”

He added: “Colchester has long been one of the fastest growing towns in the UK, and this has had an impact on our green space which is absolutely vital for our local natural environment, wildlife and biodiversity.

“It is, therefore, more important than ever to use opportunities like Middlewick Ranges to save parcels of green space for our wildlife and community.

“I am calling for part of the £40 million additional funding as part of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund to be allocated for Middlewick Country Park.”

Mr Quince also confirmed the sale of the land has been delayed until 2022.

He said: “The delay is due to a desire to align with the provision of new range facilities at the nearby Fingringhoe Ranges and will, therefore, ensure there is no reduced training capacity.”