AN E-PETITION calling for the retention of RAF Leuchars has been launched as part of a renewed campaign to save the base.
Behind the initiative is Dr Clive Sneddon, a former chairman of the one-time North East Fife District Council, who has branded the controversial closure proposal as “monstrous” and has urged the Ministry of Defence to reverse the decision.
In calling for the public to support the petition to have the Fife base retained, Dr Sneddon said: ”I sincerely hope this will be a non-party campaign, to get the right decision for the defence of the United Kingdom.
“It seems unworthy to turn a matter of strategic defence importance into a blame game, which is all the new MSP Rod Campbell and various Labour politicians seem to be interested in.”
Those supporting the petition believe that the location and record of RAF Leuchars as a base defending the airspace of the northern United Kingdom give it a strategic significance which requires its retention.
Dr Sneddon added,”Bases further north or south are less well placed to respond rapidly to threats to strategic assets in the central belt of Scotland and in northern England, whereas RAF Leuchars complements RAF Lossiemouth for the air defence of Northern Britain.
“We therefore call upon the Ministry of Defence and Number 10 Downing Street to reject finding accommodation for soldiers returning from the Army of the Rhine as a valid reason for closing RAF Leuchars.
“We are urging a review to assess all arguments adduced to justify the closure of RAF Leuchars against the strategic objectives set out in the recent Strategic Defence Review and to either justify publicly the closure of RAF Leuchars to Parliament on genuine strategic grounds, or rescind the decision to close it.”
Dr Sneddon, a retired St Andrews University lecturer, also took a swipe at Defence Secretary Liam Fox.
He said: ”I would like him to act as Secretary of State for Defence, and make his decisions on a strategic basis for the benefit of the country.
“It is unfortunate that his published defence of his position makes a strategy of repatriating the Army of the Rhine.
“I can see that changing the defence posture of the army has strategic implications, but so does changing the defence posture of the RAF.
“It is a great pity that he sees the role of the RAF through the lens of the army, when he above all has to stand above inter-service rivalries and take a view of what the country requires.
“It is this failure to see the overall requirements of the defence of the nation that has turned him into a Secretary of State for Army Accommodation, even if that label may seem unworthy to some.
“The remedy lies in his own hands. All he has to do is look at the defence needs of the country in the round.”
E-petitions are viewed an easy way for people to influence government policy in the UK and anyone can create one about anything for which the government is responsible.
If it gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons.