Woolwich barracks
British troops patrol Woolwich barracks southeast London, which is set to close in 2028 Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has revealed plans for the UK government to sell off 56 more defence sites by 2040. It comes as part of a review of by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after the sale of 35 sites was previously announced.

The released land amounts to more than 32,000 acres, including 10 surplus airfields and five golf courses. Fallon says the sale of the land could be enough to build 55,000 homes whilst saving about £3bn ($3.72bn) in running costs by 2040 – but only £140m over the next decade.

Money would be reinvested in order to establish "areas of military expertise" in locations across the country, according to Fallon. The armed forces are set to lose historic bases and barracks including Woolwich barracks in London, Fort George in the Highlands and several Royal Marines bases.

"By putting money where it is needed, we will provide better facilities to train our armed forces and deliver more stability for military families," he said. Unions, such as Unite, slammed the plans, calling them "brutal".

Sites in England include parts of Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire (the army's largest garrison) the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, near Grantham, and Imphal Barracks in York. Eight sites in Scotland will close, including the Redford Calvary and Infantry Baracks in Edinburgh, and Fort George, near Ardersier.

Wales and Northern Ireland will have three bases closed, including Brecon Barracks.

The MoD plan to move the bases to other locations was chosen because of their employment opportunities in the community. Fallon said this will enable military families to buy their own homes.

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said Labour acknowledged a need to "modernise". She said: "The government is right to seek to restructure the estate to ensure that we optimise our military capability and deliver value for money for the British taxpayer.

"The changes proposed in this report are very considerable in scale and there is a real need to ensure they are delivered in a way that does not cause undue challenges to our forces and their families." Fallon also assured MPs that the receipts from the sales would go back into defence budget.

In response to the plans, Mike McCartney, national officer for Unite, called the closures "brutal".

"In many instances the bases earmarked for closure are at the heart of their local communities providing a source of decent and secure employment," he said.