By a Newsnet reporter
Claims by Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore that the Leuchars Airshow will continue for “the next few years” have been called into question following a letter from the UK Minister for the Armed Forces, Nick Harvey.
In the letter Mr Harvey admits that he does not know if there will be any RAF shows at Leuchars beyond this year.
The letter was in response to a question from the MSP for North East Fife Roderick Campbell who had asked for clarification on the MoD’s plans for the RAF base following its announced closure earlier this year.
In response Mr Harvey wrote: “Plans for the transfer of the Station to the Army are at an early stage and as yet there has been no major discussion on the future of the airshow as part of the overall plan for RAF Leuchars.
“Unfortunately, at this stage I cannot tell you what will happen beyond this year’s show.”
The loss of the airshow will be a further blow to the local economy already reeling from the news that the RAF are to withdraw from Leuchars. The base will instead be modified in order to house two army units.
There have been concerns raised about the timescale of the plans and fears that any delays between base closure and troop deployment may seriously impact the local economy.
Mr Campbell is now seeking assurances from the UK Government that the airshow will be safeguarded for at least the next three years.
Commenting the Nationalist MSP said:
“The UK Government must confirm the future of the airshow along with the plans for the future of the base as a matter of urgency.
“The airshow’s future is of paramount importance and is worth over £1m to the local economy over the next three years. It is crucial to the wellbeing of so many businesses in the area.”
Earlier this month an RAF Leuchars spokesperson claimed not to have any direction on whether the Leuchars air show will continue beyond 2011. Describing the situation as a “shambles” Mr Campbell added:
“Who is telling the truth here – the Defence Minister or the Scottish Secretary?
“The continued uncertainty over the future of the base and the transfer of the army is already causing great concern in the local community, the last thing we need now is more uncertainty with the questions over the future of this much loved show.
“Leuchars airshow attracts over 50,000 people from near and far every year and is a key date in the annual calendar not only for Fife but all of Scotland.
“The people of the area deserve better and I am looking to get a guarantee on the future of the airshow from the UK Government as soon as possible.”