The UK Government decision to dismiss Kinloss as a future base for a national spaceport has sparked defiance and a pledge to fight on at Moray Council.
Councillors across the party divide expressed their dismay at Tuesday’s surprise announcement that both Lossiemouth and Kinloss were being removed from consideration following objections from the Ministry of Defence that both bases remained a high priority for exclusive military use.
Councillor John Cowe, who in his role as chairman of the Moray Economic Partnership prompted the Moray bid during government consultations over the location of the future base, admitted the decision came as a “huge shock”.
However, he insisted that supporters of the plan should not give up all hope as an explanation is being sought over the decision. Councillor Cowe said: “We are asking for an explanation as to the rationale behind the Ministry of Defence disallowing the bid – and we will look at how we can go forward with this. We have no intention of just giving up.”
It now looks likely that Moray will press for a review on the decision with Councillors agreeing that given the growing importance of RAF Lossiemouth in the defence infrastructure the MoD decision on that base should be accepted.
Councillors did take the view, however, that the same could not be said for Kinloss Barracks and that is where the focus should now be placed.
Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross said: “We have excellent facilities already in place at Kinloss and it should be a priority for the council to ensure we get answers from the Ministry of Defence as to why it has been discounted.”
Councillor Ross added that if talks with the UK Government were not successful then Moray should consider seeking private backing for the project.
His Labour counterpart and opponent in the forthcoming UK General Election, Councillor Sean Morton, agreed saying: “Kinloss is absolutely the best location for a spaceport and it should be opened out to private business.”
SNP councillor Graham Leadbitter, a long-time advocate for the establishment of a spaceport in Moray, called on the ‘fighting spirit’ that save Lossiemouth and Kinloss from closure just a few years ago to once again come to the fore.
He said: “If we had given up on Lossiemouth and Kinloss without a fight we might not have any bases at all in Moray – and that is not what we are about.”