Leuchars to close as SNP attack ‘massive’ Scottish defence cuts

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by a Newsnet Reporter

The SNP has responded to the announcement of the UK Government’s military basing review by claiming it confirmed their fears of “massive and disproportionate” defence cuts to Scotland.

The coalition has announced that RAF Leuchars is to close which will mean Scotland has lost two out of three RAF bases.  The closure of Leuchars means that RAF Lossiemouth is now the only RAF airbase left in Scotland.

Speaking after a statement in the House of Commons, SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said:

“The UK Government had the opportunity to reverse more than a decade of decline in Scotland’s military footprint but has instead confirmed further massive and disproportionate cuts to the RAF and Royal Marines, as well as the closure of military facilities.

“However the MoD try and dress this up, RAF personnel numbers are being cut by more than fifty per cent and the Royal Marines cut almost entirely in Scotland.

“We are also losing military facilities including Fort George, Craigiehall, Redford Barracks, Dreghorn Barracks and the Air Rescue Coordination Centre at Kinloss.  For these communities we urgently need clarity from the MoD and a commitment that they will take their responsibilities seriously for the economic and social impact that these cuts will have.”

Commenting on news that RAF Lossiemouth will be consolidated as Scotland’s sole military airbase Mr Robertson, who is the Member of Parliament for Moray, said:

“The consolidation of RAF Lossiemouth is a huge victory for the community and a tribute to the campaigners who battled to save this vital base and the Moray community from the shock of a double base closure.”

The SNP MSP for North East Fife, Rod Campbell, who represents RAF Leuchars, said:

“This is a dark day for Fife as the UK Government presides over the end of the RAF’s 100 year presence at Leuchars.  Coming just days after the UK Government said that it would shut Fife Ness coastguard station, people in Fife are paying a high price for the policies of the Liberal-Tory coalition.

“The Coalition Government’s decision is a hammer blow to the area and to the 1000 RAF personnel and their families who have made Fife their home.”

The UK coalition announced a plan to use Leuchars in order house Army personnel.  However there are concerns that there might be as much as a four year gap from RAF base closure to the troop’s arrival.

Mr Campbell added:

“Liam Fox leaves many unanswered questions for Fife.  When will the base close, will the personnel be transferred and when will the Army arrive?

“RAF Leuchars accounts for nearly 2000 jobs in the local economy and around £51 million of income.

“While welcoming all service personnel, the arrival of an Army presence will be no compensation today for those who have settled in Fife, who work at Leuchars and who now face a difficult future.”

The SNP has demanded more details of the UK coalition’s plans for Leuchars and a timescale of events.

A spokesman said: “We need a genuine assessment of the impact on the local economy and a clear plan from the MoD to ensure a smooth transition for people across Fife and that any detriment to the local economy will be addressed.”

The Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox said:  “This government inherited both a national economic disaster that represented a strategic threat, and a defence programme undermined by a £38bn black hole.

“Without a fundamental review for 12 years, our Armed Forces were still largely configured for the 20th century despite a decade of sustained operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“This failure to set out a coherent long-term strategy for defence and to effectively match commitments to resources is one of Labour’s worst legacies.”