A visit from Defence Minister Andrew Murrison to RAF Lossiemouth today has prompted fresh calls for an increase in defence spending at the Moray base.
Dr Murrison visits the base just days after the disbandment of two of its squadrons, making way for the arrival of aircraft being transferred from Leuchars as part of the RAF’s withdrawal from the Fife base.
His visit also coincides with a major NATO exercise that has seen an influx of aircraft from several nations to both Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks.
Moray’s MP hit out at the Ministry of Defence ahead of the visit, calling again for ministers to apologise to the people of Moray “for the appalling way your government treated one of the most defence-dependent communities in the country”.
Angus Robertson MP is also challenging the UK Government to match the £500million increase in spending on conventional defence being promised by the SNP should Scotland vote Yes in the independence debate in September.
In a letter to the defence minister Mr Robertson said: “I hope you enjoy your visit to Moray – but the track record of the MoD in Scotland is appalling, with disproportionate cuts to manpower, spending, basing and historic Scottish units.
“Defence-dependent communities like Moray have been treated badly, I hope while you are in Moray you meet with people who were involved in resisting the recent MoD closure plans.
“They will be able to attest to the damage inflicted on the local community and its economy – as well as the cack-handed way in which the MoD managed the process.”
The Moray MP highlighted in his letter statistics published by the MoD that show 28% fewer military personnel are now based in Moray when compared to 2010 – including 30% fewer Army personnel based at Kinloss Barracks than when 39 Engineer Regiment moved to Moray.
He added that there was now 49% fewer military personnel at the Kinloss base when compared to 2010 and 15% fewer RAF personnel based at Lossiemouth.