THE Scottish Government has again vowed to stand by north east Fife as it prepares for the loss of RAF Leuchars.
It was announced in July that the historic air station will be turned into an army base between 2013 and 2017 — prompting fears a ‘fallow’ period could devastate the local economy.
Finance Secretary John Swinney and Government Strategy Secretary Bruce Crawford met members of the Leuchars task force in Kirkcaldy on Tuesday as part of the Cabinet’s summer tour.
Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government was ready to help north east Fife cope with any impact the transition might have on schools, businesses, housing, transport or health services.
He said: “Last month, the UK Government announced plans to withdraw the RAF from Leuchars and to establish a new army formation HQ in the town.
“The Defence Secretary’s decision to withdraw the RAF from Fife was hugely disappointing for the local community and for the Scottish Government.
“We do welcome, however, the continuation of Leuchars as a major military base, and both the community and the Scottish Government will be working with the army and the RAF in supporting base personnel, their families and the community during the transition period.”
Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government had been pressing its UK counterpart for more information on the handover.
He added: “We are pressing the UK Government strongly to live up to its responsibilities following its decision, and for it to engage with the individuals, businesses and communities affected by the RAF’s withdrawal from Leuchars.
“The UK Government must deliver the smooth and speedy transition of RAF Leuchars to an army base, and ensure that its decision has as positive an impact as possible on the Fife community and economy.”
North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell was one of the attendees at the meeting.
He said: “This was an important opportunity for Scottish Government ministers, MPs, MSPs, councillors and other interested parties to discuss the long term consequences of the Leuchars decision.
“The emphasis throughout was on ensuring that the undertakings given by the Ministry of Defence about alternative military uses are fully implemented.
“It was agreed that it was necessary for a Fife-wide economic strategy to monitor and take effective action for the implications of defence decisions.”