NORTH East Fife MSP Rod Campbell has again blasted the uncertainty surrounding RAF Leuchars’ transition to an army base.
Mr Campbell wrote to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond raising concerns about the lack of information coming out of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Fears over the future of the base have been mounting since the MoD announced that the multi-role brigade envisioned for Leuchars would not exist in the same form under the Army 2020 restructuring plan.
Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey wrote back to Mr Campbell and revealed that plans for the future basing of army units in Scotland would be announced “by the end of the year”.
Mr Harvey said: “Detailed planning work is now being undertaken by the army and defence infrastructure organisation to determine the future basing of army units in Scotland as part of the overall basing strategy.
“It is expected that plans will be announced by the end of the year but until this work completes, I am afraid it is too early to confirm exactly which units will be located at any given location.”
Responding, Mr Campbell said: “The Ministry of Defence have informed me that they expect to have completed their ‘detailed plans’ on basing by the end of the year.
“That is disappointing, as a far greater degree of detail on the timing and practicalities of the army move to Leuchars must be made available to the community as a matter of urgency.
“I am also concerned that the timescale for decision making could slide, potentially leaving us without the information required until well into 2013.”
He went on: “Last summer, the Liberal-Conservative coalition revealed their intention to see RAF Leuchars transformed into a major army base.
“These plans were woefully short on detail at that time, and now, one year down the line, we are no further forward.
“It is high time that the basing review was completed, and I will be doing all that I can to press the MoD to stick to their new timetable of an announcement by the end of the year.
“The people of the area require a firm foundation on which to plan for the future.
“It is extremely difficult for the community, and associated agencies, to make plans for the future of the local economy in the absence of a significant degree of detail as to the timing of the army’s arrival and the scale of their presence.”
Leuchars resident Carroll Finnie, chair of the community council and part of the campaign to save the air base, said the best result would be for the RAF to remain in the village.
She said: “The latest news is that we won’t have an announcement until the end of the year.
“Yes, the community needs to know what is happening, but we have always said that rather than forcing or rushing the issue, what we really want is to get the right answer.
“The right answer, for us, is for the RAF to remain in Leuchars.
“As we have always said, they are in the right place, at the right time, doing the right job.
“However, that doesn’t mean we are against the army coming to Leuchars.”