A PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION from an SNP MP has revealed the massive ongoing investment in Moray’s military bases since the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in 2012.
The importance of the military to Moray’s economy prompted a fierce fight to retain a military presence in the region, when at the time the withdrawal of the RAF from Kinloss was joined by a threatened closure of RAF Lossiemouth.
While nothing could be done to save the Nimrod MRA4 from being scrapped and the RAF removed from Kinloss, the arguments were won in favour of Moray with the Army taking over at Kinloss and frontline Typhoon squadrons being transferred from Leuchars to Lossiemouth.
Since then the SNP has insisted that overall Ministry of Defence investment in Scotland has remained well below that allocated to other parts of the UK – and called on Moray and Scotland to have a fairer proportional share of UK defence spending.
However, figures revealed by the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon, in response to a question from the SNP’s Steven Paterson MP, shows that spending on the two Moray bases has been over £10.5million in the four years since the 2012 SDSR.
In the last year, the cost of maintaining the Moray bases has been greater than that spent on every other military base in Scotland combined.
The figures were welcomed by Moray MP and leader of the SNP at Westminster, Angus Robertson, who said that the ongoing work in maintaining the base at RAF Lossiemouth was of “significant importance” to Moray in providing employment and an increase in economic activity.
He added: “It is important that the MoD continues to invest in Lossiemouth and all its facilities to ensure that personnel are working in as safe and effective an environment as possible.”
The figures issued by defence chiefs show that the Moray bases dwarfed spending on other military units in Scotland, with maintenance costs of the Naval base on the Clyde running at just £345,000 over the same period.
Meanwhile the large Army presence at Redford, Dreghorn, Glencorse and Fort George cost the MoD a total of £6.8million to maintain, with the Army presence at Leuchars contributing a further £1.75million over the last two years (no figures were available for 2012 or 2013).
Explaining the nature of the figures a spokesman for the MoD’s defence infrastructure organisation said: “These figures represent any maintenance required to comply with statutory and mandatory responsibilities to ensure a safe and legally compliant estate.
“This includes fire regulations, health and safety laws and grounds maintenance.”