Defence: Moray will remain ‘vital’.
The future of Moray’s military bases was placed firmly at the top of the independence campaign agenda today when the Scottish Government’s Veterans Minister, Keith Brown, spoke with local business leaders in Forres.
Mr Brown joined local MP and the SNP’s spokesman on defence at Westminster, Angus Robertson, in outlining what they say will be a boost to the Moray economy should a Yes vote be returned in the September referendum.
The pair highlighted that a key pledge in the Scottish Government White Paper on independence was the procurement of maritime patrol aircraft to fill the gap left by the scrapping of the Nimrod fleet and subsequent withdrawal of the RAF from Kinloss.
Mr Brown told business leaders that Moray would retain both Kinloss and Lossiemouth bases in an independent Scotland – and both would benefit from increased troop numbers for Scotland from 11,000 to 15,000.
He added that as well as the maritime aircraft procurement, Lossiemouth would be home to Typhoon fast jets as well as helicopter and transport aircraft.
“Scottish independence is good for conventional defence in Scotland and for Moray in particular. This region has suffered terribly because of bad MOD decisions, and this will end with a ‘Yes’ vote,” said Mr Brown, a former Royal Marine who served during the Falklands conflict.
He added: “Scotland is a maritime nation without maritime patrol aircraft and a key priority is to procure aircraft to fulfil this task. Lossiemouth will remain the key air-base in Scotland, but air personnel levels nationally will go up from the planned UK total of 1,500 to 3,250 following independence. This will be a boost primarily to Moray and to Leuchars in Fife.
“With plans for a more settled defence career path and security for the future of bases like Lossiemouth and Kinloss this will be transformational for Moray.
“Personnel will be based here for longer with less moves, meaning more people can settle, boosting the local economy and community.”
Mr Robertson also underlined the important role Moray would play in a future Scottish Defence Force. He said: “Defence communities like Moray will experience a huge improvement following Scottish independence.
“The bases will finally be secure and will become fully manned, in contrast to the recent closure threats by the MoD and downgrading of numbers.
“Scottish personnel will be better placed to make long term career and family plans which will be a huge boost to the local economy, house market and social services which are well supported by service families.
“Given the exceptional training and exercise environment I believe the area will continue to see the continuing regular presence of Squadrons and Units from the rest of the UK and allied countries.”