Politicians take Leuchars’ case to Westminster

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TOP local and national politicians descended on Westminster this week as the campaign to save RAF Leuchars gathered pace.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott travelled to London with North East Fife representatives Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Iain Smith MSP to lobby for the retention of the under-threat air base.

The trio met with the UK’s armed forces minister Nick Harvey at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with Mr Scott vowing to “make the case” for RAF Leuchars, having done the same for RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.

Speaking after Tuesday’s visit, Sir Menzies described the exchange with the MoD as “free and frank.”

SPECULATION

He said: “We emphasised the strategic case for Leuchars as we have done throughout the debate on the future of RAF bases in Scotland.

“The minister and his officials emphasised that, notwithstanding speculation to the contrary, no decisions have yet been taken.

“I particularly drew the minister’s attention to the vital role fulfilled by RAF Leuchars in the air defence of northern Britain.

“I also emphasised that the strategic arguments which resulted in Leuchars being assigned as a base for the Eurofighter Typhoon have never been challenged.”

Amid fears Leuchars could face the axe as part of defence spending cuts, Mr Smith hailed a “constructive” meeting.

He said: “I am encouraged by today’s constructive meeting with the minister for the armed forces.

“He listened carefully to the strong case put forward for the retention of RAF Leuchars and while he stressed that no decisions have been made, it is clear that the fate of the base is by no means sealed.

“We will not rest in our campaign to keep it open.”

Meanwhile, Miles Briggs, the Conservative MSP candidate for North East Fife, has written to the MoD calling for an end to the uncertainty and for a timescale to be placed on the decision process.

“The case for Scotland’s RAF bases is overwhelming,” said Mr Briggs.

PIVOTAL

“Since the end of the Second World War RAF Leuchars has been regarded as one of the UK’s two main fighter strike bases.

“It has a pivotal strategic position on the east coast and is adjacent to a huge number of population centres.

“Crucially, £40m has been spent upgrading runways at Leuchars specifically for the Typhoon operation.

“The timescale for when a final outcome of the Strategic Defence Review will be published is currently unknown.

“I have today written to the Ministry of Defence to ask for a timescale for when the final announcement on the Strategic Defence Review will be made.

“It’s time for the uncertainty which has been generated over the future of RAF Leuchars to end.”