Last-ditch plea to save RAF Leuchars

11/02/11, TSPL, Scotsman, First Minister Alex Salmond  met today with councillors and campaigners from Leuchars community group in Fife as part of the ongoing campaign to save Scotlands RAF bases. The First Minister attended the meeting  in the Henderson Hall in Leuchars. Picture Ian Rutherford
11/02/11, TSPL, Scotsman, First Minister Alex Salmond met today with councillors and campaigners from Leuchars community group in Fife as part of the ongoing campaign to save Scotlands RAF bases. The First Minister attended the meeting in the Henderson Hall in Leuchars. Picture Ian Rutherford

THE Scottish Government has made its final plea to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to save RAF Leuchars.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the written submission would make a ‘compelling’ case for retaining Scotland’s two remaining air bases at Leuchars and Lossiemouth.

A decision on what to do with the north east Fife base amid defence spending cuts is due by July 19.

Mr Salmond told MSPs at Holyrood: “The Scottish Government has for some months been in discussions with MoD officials about the issue.

“I have also had a number of discussions with the Secretary of State for Defence.

“The Scottish Government’s role in those discussions has been to protect Scottish interests by making the compelling strategic and economic case for retaining RAF Leuchars and RAF Lossiemouth, and putting the case for relocating the maximum number of personnel currently based in Germany to Scotland.”

Around 20,000 army troops are due to return to the UK from Germany over the next few years.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said earlier this year that an alternative military use for Leuchars is ‘highly likely’, should the RAF be moved out.

But campaigners are refusing to give up the fight in their quest to keep the RAF in Leuchars.

North East Fife MSP Rod Campbell said the closure of another air base in Scotland — following the mothballing of RAF Kinloss — would be ‘unacceptable’.

He said: “Giving evidence to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee, Defence Secretary Liam Fox admitted that Scotland was disproportionately hit by a reduction in defence jobs over the decade to 2010.

“These facts support the case for Scotland not to have two-thirds of its airbases closed by the UK Government.

“Such a prospect is massively unfair, and it is wholly unacceptable to my constituents in North East Fife.”