Issued jointly by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Moray Council:
Business and community leaders in Moray will continue to press the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to retain a strong presence in the county, following publication today of the UK Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Moray Council and Skills Development Scotland are joining forces with the Scottish Government and Moray's major businesses to discuss the review's impact and agree joint actions in response.
The meeting will take place in Elgin's Mansion House Hotel tomorrow morning (Wednesday 20 October).
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said:
"Moray is heavily reliant on defence, with the RAF bases at Kinloss and Lossiemouth supporting around 5,710 jobs and contributing more than £158m to the local economy every year.
"The changes outlined in the Prime Minister's statement and the UK Government White Paper will undoubtedly have an impact, but the extent of that impact is uncertain at present.
"Along with colleagues in the Scottish Government, we will be pressing the MoD for more detail as early as possible.
"In particular, we need to know what the timescale is for running down the RAF presence in Kinloss, and what opportunities might exist for alternative uses.
"We also need more information on the size of reduction planned for the Tornado fleet, particularly if that would affect Lossiemouth.
"We welcome the clear indication that the Government is committed to listen with communities affected by the outcome of the review.
"We will use that opportunity to present a robust case for retaining a strong defence presence in the county, with both bases continuing to play an effective role."
Councillor George McIntyre, the convener of Moray Council said: "This announcement is a crushing blow, particularly to the Kinloss and Forres area which has a long association with RAF Kinloss and where the civilian and service communities are closely intertwined.
"However, I can give an absolute assurance that Moray Council will work closely with its partners to ensure that everything possible is done to minimise the impact of the Kinloss decision on the local economy and on the lives of local people.
"There is a sizeable pool of highly skilled people working at the air station and we must do all that we can to retain those skills in the area and consider how they can be put to best use.
"Disappointing though today's news is, it is vital that we remain positive and work together to forge a new way ahead for Moray.
"Moray has a broad range of well-established businesses both large and small. It has strengths that can be matched to emerging growth areas, such as renewable energy, and it will remain a good place to live learn and work.
"Moray Council, HIE and other partners will be working tirelessly to help Moray recover from this body blow and weather the storm.
"In conjunction with HIE and our other partners, we will be seeking urgent meetings with ministers, both in London and Edinburgh, to lobby for government support for the Moray economy and to explore opportunities for new investment and employment."