Moray MP Angus Robertson met with Defence Secretary Liam Fox in London to press the case for RAF Lossiemouth as the campaign to secure the future of the Tornado base gathers pace.
Mr Robertson – the SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson – pressed the Secretary of State on the strategic military arguments which support Lossiemouth as the best place to base the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, both in terms of cost and location. Mr Robertson also raised concerns over the economic and social cost of closure.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Robertson said:
“Liam Fox confirmed that the timescale for decisions on the future of Lossiemouth is now going to be made in New Year. On one hand this will prolong the uncertainty for the families of service personnel, but on the other allows the Moray taskforce and campaigners more time to build the case for retention of the base.
“It is clear that no plan has been agreed to mitigate the economic and social impact of base closures by the UK Government, which is regrettable and irresponsible, and UK Ministers, including the Defence Secretary, need to understand their responsibilities.
“RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth make an enormous contribution to the local economy, and the closure of both bases would be the equivalent of 700,000 job losses in the Greater London area.
“Liam Fox has just returned from Norway, as have I, after discussing the opportunities for defence cooperation and this again reinforces the case to maintain and utilise RAF Lossiemouth as a northerly home for the Joint Combat Aircraft. This would allow easy and cost effective transit to and from Norway and a capability commitment able to address the challenges facing the Arctic and the High North.
“There is no doubt that the successful future of RAF Lossiemouth can be secured through cooperation with our Nordic neighbours if the right military facilities are maintained and vital capabilities such as maritime reconnaissance and fast-jet capability located in the best strategic location.
“The national significance of the RAF’s role in Scotland is demonstrated by the endorsement from each of Scotland’s political leaders, including the Scottish Tories and Liberal Democrats, is that RAF basing should remain in Moray.”