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Further support for Scots RAF bases

22 December 2010

Ministers have taken decisive action to support Scottish communities suffering from the uncertainty created by the UK Government's strategic defence and security review.

First Minister Alex Salmond today unveiled a new £300,000 initiative to create training and development opportunities for people facing potential redundancy in Moray as a result of the planned withdrawal of the RAF from Kinloss.

The task force supporting the community campaign to keep the RAF in Moray has asked for assistance to counter the impact of defence cuts on the area. A final decision on RAF Lossiemouth isn't expected until April.

And Ministers and officials are also working closely with Fife Council and other key partners to help co-ordinate the campaign to save RAF Leuchars. Fife Council is focusing primarily on the case for retention and assessing the potential economic impact were Leuchars to close.

A meeting between Ministers, Fife Council and Fife Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to take place on December 22 to ensure action responding to the threat about the future of RAF Leuchars is co-ordinated. The First Minister will discuss the case for retaining Scotland's RAF Bases when he meets the UK Defence Secretary in London on January 11.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"The main strength of our campaign to save vital RAF bases across Scotland is that it is united and cross-party in nature. This approach must continue as the future of our RAF bases has implications for the whole of Scotland.

"Today we are announcing a £300,000 skills and training package for Moray in the wake of the news that RAF Kinloss is to close following the decision to withdraw the Nimrod aircraft from service. It is right and responsible that the Scottish Government provides support of this kind to the Moray community to deal with the many difficulties this presents.

"Ministers are also working closely with representatives in Fife , despite previous assurances from the UK Government that RAF Leuchars wouldn't be considered for closure. This includes support for Fife Council and Scottish Enterprise in developing the economic assessment for RAF Leuchars.

"RAF Leuchars employs around 1,560 service personnel and 220 civilian staff directly. Closing Leuchars - and RAF Lossiemouth - would be a total waste of public money. Around £25 million was recently invested in upgrading the runway at Leuchars which has made it one of the RAF's best runways and one which will be fit for purpose for the next 25 years.

"Our communities deserve clarity from the MoD as a matter of urgency to allow them to plan for the future. Scotland has already made a major sacrifice through RAF Kinloss but we must ensure all is done to protect Scotland's remaining RAF bases."
Calum MacPherson of HIE said:

"The decision on Nimrod has been met with disbelief from many in the defence world. We have been told there is no hope of reversing that decision. Therefore local agencies have to plan for the worst case scenario - and this funding will get the ball rolling and allow our partners to respond to some of the more immediate challenges.

"By promoting the advantages of living and working in Moray, highlighting suitable alternative jobs, attract new investment to the area and crucially provide skills training to keep our valued personnel and contractors in the area then early progress can be made and foundations put in place."

Background:

  • The £300,000 funding package will be channeled through Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to create new places at colleges across the Moray area, and to provide training and skills development for people looking to move into new areas of work.
  • Until a decision about the future of RAF Leuchars is made the Scottish Government continues to work with Fife Council and Scottish Enterprise to develop an economic assessment for the base and to assist them in submitting their initial case to the MoD.
  • When the UK Government White Paper was published, the Scottish Government sought further clarification from the Ministry of Defence for the range of potential impacts on Scottish defence sites and on the timetable for further decisions affecting Scottish bases. Information received from MoD sources did not indicate that RAF Leuchars was at any particular or heightened risk within the MoD Bases Review. No decision on the future of RAF Leuchars or other bases is expected until spring 2011.
  • While both RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars are included in the UK Bases Review, they provide significantly different functions and were therefore not viewed as being in direct competition within the Bases Review. However, since the end of November there has been increased media speculation that the base may be under threat of closure as an alternate to RAF Lossiemouth.
  • Scotland has lost more than 10,000 defence jobs since 1997, while over that same period the UK Government has spent £5.6 billion less on defence in Scotland than our fair share of MoD spending.

Contacts:

  • For media enquiries, contact Danny Chalmers at the Scottish Government on 0131 244 2557
  • To contact the Moray Task Force email info@moraytaskforce.com

 


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