Fresh doubts cast on future of Leuchars Airshow

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RAF Leuchars Air Show 09 September 2006 - photographs by Gawaine Meechan''[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section]'Nikon D2X''Focal Length: 170mm''Optimize Image: ''Color Mode: Mode III (Adobe RGB)''Long Exposure NR: Off''High ISO NR: Off''2006/09/09 09:56:09.3''Exposure Mode: Manual''White Balance: Auto''Tone Comp.: Auto''JPEG (8-bit) Fine''Metering Mode: Center-Weighted''AF Mode: AF-S''Hue Adjustment: 0�''Image Size: Large (3216 x 2136)''1/500 sec - F/16''Flash Sync Mode: Front Curtain''Saturation: Normal''Exposure Comp.: 0 EV''Auto Flash Mode: i-TTL''Sharpening: Auto''Lens: VR 70-200mm F/2.8 G''Sensitivity: ISO 160''Auto Flash Comp: -1.0 EV''Image Comment: ''[#End of Shooting Data Section]

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Doubts have been raised about the future of the RAF Leuchars Airshow after a government minister refused to give any guarantee that the event will go ahead next year.

Despite the announcement earlier this year that the RAF is to leave Leuchars to make way for the army, the airshow went ahead last month and was well supported by members of the public who turned out in their thousands once again.

And the short term future of the airshow seemed to have been secured following comments made by Air Commodore Sir Stephen Dalton and Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore.

But in a letter to North East Fife MSP Rod Campbell, armed forces minister Nick Harvey refused to confirm the event’s future was secure.

In the letter, Mr Harvey said: “Plans for the transfer of the station to the army are at an early stage and as yet there has been no major discussion on the future of the airshow as part of the overall plan for RAF Leuchars.

“Unfortunately, at this stage, I cannot tell you what will happen beyond this year’s show.”

Mr Campbell has now written back to Mr Harvey seeking clarification on this issue.

He has also pointed out that the letter contradicts previous public statements asserting that the airshow was secure until 2014 when the RAF finally move out of north east Fife.

In his response, Mr Campbell stated: “You will be aware that, were the Airshow to run for the next three years, it would bring in approximately over £1 million to the local economy.

“I would therefore be grateful if you could clarify this matter, as your letter to me has cast new doubt over the future of Leuchars Airshow.”

Last month’s Leuchars Airshow was a celebration of 100 years of aviation in north east Fife.

In recent years up to 40,000 people have attended the event to witness displays such as the Red Arrows, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Battle of Britain memorial flight.

Air forces from many NATO countries have provided additional displays.

In July this year, Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced that RAF Leuchars would close as part of the strategic defence review.

The recently formed Typhoon force will now be moved to RAF Lossiemouth with major army units expected to take up residence in Leuchars from 2015.