Moray Task Force, the Moray Economic Partnership and the local community have today (Mon 18 July) welcomed the news that RAF Lossiemouth is to be retained as an RAF base.
Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, MP, announced to the House of Commons that RAF Lossiemouth is to be retained, with RAF Kinloss and RAF Leuchars converted to Army barracks.
A high profile and relentless campaign has been waged by Moray communities to retain the base following last October's announcement that it was under review. The same announcement signalled the closure of nearby RAF Kinloss as an air base with cancellation of the contract to replace the Nimrod fleet.
Between them the bases contribute £158 million to the local economy, and account for one job in five.
Campaigners say that the nine month wait for a decision has caused a huge amount of unrest and economic damage in Moray. An early meeting of the recently-formed Moray Economic Partnership is planned for tomorrow to establish a roadmap for the area's economic recovery.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise's Calum MacPherson, said: "The passion, persistence and determination of the people of Moray has paid off. Individuals, businesses, voluntary groups and public agencies all played a part in making sure the compelling arguments to retain RAF Lossiemouth were heard loud and clear in London. Moray skies offer unrivalled flying and we are delighted that the RAF Lossiemouth families who have been at the heart of our communities for 70 years are to stay.
"While today we celebrate this decision for RAF Lossiemouth we are all conscious of the fate of RAF Leuchars, and of course RAF Kinloss. Moray has not escaped unscathed from the defence review. Already hundreds of RAF service personnel have been posted away from the area and many civilians and contractors' jobs have been affected. Having achieved so much working together we will continue to do everything we can to create new opportunities for those living and working in Moray."
Convener of Moray Council, Cllr George McIntyre, said: "Moray Task Force is delighted that the case put forward from within our community has convinced the decision makers of the importance of RAF Lossiemouth's strategic future in Moray. Its closure would have been an unthinkable double blow and we are glad that this has now been averted. Great credit goes to local people, who have worked together over the past eight months to ensure the message was heard in the corridors of Westminster
"We will seek more information from the MOD on the future strategic role of our bases, but today we celebrate retaining RAF Lossiemouth and everything that means for our families and communities."
Jim Royan, Chair of Moray Economic Partnership, commented: "Today's decision is a clear indication of what Moray's communities can achieve when working together. As a result of our compelling campaign, more people than ever have heard about Moray; that it's a great place to live and work in and that we have skilled and committed people here ready to develop new opportunities.
"The announced closure of RAF Kinloss dealt a serious blow and our hard work to support the social and economic future of Moray doesn't stop here. This decision for RAF Lossiemouth will re-invigorate business confidence. We must build on this success to attract new investors to Moray and to diversify and expand our existing business base."
Roddy Burns, acting chief executive of Moray Council: "This is excellent news which will be greeted with a great deal of relief across the whole of Moray.
"However, there is no room for complacency and no one should be under any illusions about the challenges which lie ahead. That is why we have spent the past nine months preparing a new economic strategy for Moray which will not only help mitigate against the closure of RAF Kinloss but also lay the foundation for a more diversified Moray economy.
"Working closely with the Scottish Government and our partners, Moray Council is determined that it will do everything possible to realise the huge economic potential that this area holds."
The Moray Task Force was established to fight base closures and press for an early decision on the future of RAF Kinloss.
The Moray Economic Partnership is working to safeguard the social and economic future of communities around RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth. A new Moray Economic Strategy will provide an over-arching vision for the Moray economy and highlight both the threats and opportunities which the area faces now and in the years ahead. The draft strategy is due to be released for public consultation in the next few weeks.
For background information visit the Moray Task Force website.
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