New broadside over future of RAF Leuchars

TS EN 18/07/2011. LEUCHARS, FIFE: The front gate of RAF Leuchars air base in Fife. The UK Coalition Government has announced the withdrawal of the RAF from Leuchars as part of cuts in defence spending.

TS EN 18/07/2011. LEUCHARS, FIFE: The front gate of RAF Leuchars air base in Fife. The UK Coalition Government has announced the withdrawal of the RAF from Leuchars as part of cuts in defence spending.

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North East Fife MSP Roderick Campbell has stepped up his campaign for clarity on the future of the air base at Leuchars and fired another broadside at the Ministry of Defence.

The SNP member has criticised the pace of MoD decision-making following receipt of a letter from the UK Armed Forces Minister, the Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey.

Mr Campbell has been pressing the MoD to provide more detail on the timescale and practical arrangements for Army restructuring over the past year - the restructuring of UK land forces is closely linked with the future of the Fife station base, which has been earmarked to become an Army base following the planned departure of the RAF.

Mr Campbell had initially raised his concerns with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in the aftermath of the statement on Army reorganisation made in the House of Commons in July.

At that time the Minister told MPs that the radical restructuring of the Army would have no impact on the outcomes of the MoD basing review, which has yet to be completed. However, some commentators have questioned this, given than the multi-role brigade envisioned for Leuchars will not exist in the same form under the Army 2020 restructuring plan.

Responding to the letter from the UK Armed Forces Minister, Mr Campbell told the Citizen: ”The MoD 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.

TIMESCALE

‘‘I am also concerned that the timescale for decision-making could slide, potentially leaving us without the information required until well into 2013.

“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.”