Questions raised over £87m bill for Lossiemouth upgrades

The Ministry of Defence has revealed the total cost of their decision to retain the RAF presence in Moray at the expense of RAF Leuchars in Fife.

After a fierce eight-month campaign in Moray UK defence ministers took the decision in 2011 to retain the Moray base, moving Typhoon squadrons to Lossiemouth and handing the Fife base over to the army.

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Menzies Campbell, whose constituency includes RAF Leuchars, has tabled a series of questions over the cost of that decision – and has been told that so far £17million has been spent in converting RAF Lossiemouth with a further £70million set aside for the revamp of the base.

One squadron of Typhoon’s has already moved to Moray while a further two are expected soon. Expressing his surprise at the costs involved, Sir Menzies Campbell said: “It should not be forgotten that the Ministry of Defence justified sending the Fife-based Typhoon force north to Lossiemouth on the basis it would save the taxpayer money.”

Lossiemouth has seen refurbishment of two hangars and accommodation blocks in readiness for the incoming squadrons, while supporting information technology and communication systems have also been put in place.

A new £7million ‘hush house’ for testing aircraft engines will be created as will a £5million facility to allow Rolls Royce staff and other contractors to test the Typhoon’s engines.

Under questioning from the Fife MP, defence minister Mark Francois said: “By the end of the financial year approximately £17million will have been spent on Typhoon-related works at Lossiemouth.

“The estimated capital costs for facilitating Typhoon-force related operations, including the Northern Quick Reaction Alert facility, is anticipated to be some £87million.

“The basing review announced in July 2011 assessed what is best for defence as a whole. The decisions make regarding RAF Leuchars and RAF Lossiemouth were also necessary to establish a coherent plan for basing the Army following its return from Germany.”

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