THE FAILURE OF a Scottish Government minister to mention Kinloss Barracks in a statement on military basing in Scotland has sparked a furious reaction from an opposition MSP.
On Wednesday Keith Brown, the cabinet secretary for the economy, jobs and fair work provided an update to the Scottish Parliament on the MoD review.
In that Mr Brown said that Scotland’s defence footprint “has been hollowed out through successive cuts so the severity of this fresh round of cuts comes as a shock”. He added that a reduction of the defence estate by almost 20% was a “huge blow” for Scotland.
He added: “These brutal cuts spell the near total removal of the Army from large parts of Scotland and the end of the Royal Navy’s presence in Fife. It comes just three years after Philip Hammond announced the last Army Basing Plan, billed as offering stability and certainty.
“These recent commitments to Scotland have, for the most part, been disregarded. The First Minister wrote yesterday to the Prime Minister to express her firm opposition to these cuts and to seek clarity on personnel numbers, unit moves and any financial support that will be provided to communities affected by closures. She also expressed concern about the MoD’s failure to keep their promises to consult with the Scottish Government.
“The Scottish Government does not accept that Monday’s announcement is the end of the story and I will work closely with local authorities most directly affected to agree next steps.
“I am also keen to work with Parliamentarians from all parties as there is a clear interest throughout the chamber in retaining a strong defence footprint across Scotland.”
However, regional Tory MSP Douglas Ross, who recently met with the RAF Lossiemouth Station Commander for the first time to learn more about the future of the Moray base, hit back at their being no mention of Kinloss Barracks in the Scottish Government statement.
He said: “Along with everyone in Moray I welcomed the announcement made by the UK Defence Secretary confirming that Kinloss Barracks would remain as an Army facility however I was very disappointed at the shameful omission of any mention of the base by Keith Brown.
“Not to mention Kinloss once demonstrated ignorance over the anxiety created in the local community following a tweet by Angus Robertson and his continued use of the media to present misleading information.”
Referring to the Twitter post from the Moray MP that sparked fears over the future of Kinloss, Mr Ross added: “I had hoped someone within the SNP would take responsibility for the reckless tweet.
“We should always work together for the best outcome for our area, however it feels like the tweet which sparked the uncertainty amongst military personnel, their families and the local community was done more for perceived political gain rather than standing up for Moray.”
Following his recent meeting with Lossiemouth’s CO Group Captain Paul Godfrey, Mr Ross said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to formally meet with the Station Commander for the first time since the election back in May in my role as Member of the Scottish Parliament.
“The Royal Air Force has been an integral part of the Moray community for many decades and I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about the proposed developments and the changing roles the service plays.
“Following on from the recent Joint Warrior exercise which saw a number of overseas aircraft operate from Lossiemouth, I was interested to learn that a number of our own Moray based Typhoon jets had travelled to Japan to participate for the first time in training alongside the Japanese Air Self Defence Force. The first time any nation outside the US has trained alongside Japanese pilots.
“There are clearly exciting times ahead for the personnel at Lossiemouth with the planned arrival of a further Typhoon squadron and the arrival of the Poseidon aircraft and the works which will be done to enhance the infrastructure of the base.
“I look forward to following the progress of these developments and the positive impact this investment will have in Moray.”