MoD urged to assess economic damage of Kinloss reduction

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By a Newsnet reporter

SNP Westminster leader and Moray MP Angus Robertson has expressed concern over the failure of the Ministry of Defence to undertake any economic assessment of its decision to dramatically reduce the number of military personnel at Kinloss.

Speaking at Defence Questions in the House of Commons Mr Robertson welcomed the transfer of 930 Army engineering posts to Kinloss, but pointed out that the decision represented a dramatic reduction of 41 per cent from the RAF unit establishment total of 1567.  The 930 Army personnel from 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) are expected to transfer from Waterbeach near Cambridge to Kinloss in the summer of 2012.

The RAF personnel included a large proportion of skilled workers on salaries much higher than the basic salary.  The RAF staff earned direct gross annual wages total worth £54.5 million which directly benefited the local economy.  There have been concerns that the Army personnel may be on lower pay grades than the RAF personnel they replace, and in addition will be fewer in number.  

The effect to the local economy in an area traditionally dependent on MoD jobs is potentially seriously damaging.  However there has been no economic assessment by the MoD of the effects the changes to service personnel will bring about.  

During questions in the House of Commons, Mr Robertson asked Nick Harvey MP, the Conservative Minister of State for Defence whether such an economic assessment had been carried out, or was planned to be carried out.

Mr Harvey replied:  “The decision to move army units has been taken on the basis of military efficiency.  I acknowledge that the number of personnel will be slightly smaller than that which has been there in the past, but the fact of the matter is that it is military considerations that have dictated what we have decided, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman and his constituents will welcome the army into their community and will be grateful for the contribution they do make to the economy.”

Speaking after the exchange, Mr Robertson said:

“While it is welcome news that there is to be an Army personnel transfer to Kinloss, the numbers are significantly down on RAF manning levels which will clearly have an impact on the local economy and community.

“The UK Government must take responsibility for its decisions, and it is extraordinary that no economic assessment appears to have been made by Ministers.

“The Moray economy is the most defence dependent in the country and has suffered terribly through the closure announcement of Kinloss as an RAF base by the UK government and the delay in confirming plans for Army use.

“While welcoming the troops who will move to Moray, it is a regrettable that the manning totals are so significantly reduced.”