EDINBURGH’S Redford Barracks and the military headquarters at Craigiehall could be saved in a rethink of controversial Ministry of Defence plans.
But sources say the proposed closure and sale of the city’s Dreghorn Barracks is likely to go ahead to ensure some financial gain from the shake-up.
The then Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, caused surprise when he announced in July that both the Edinburgh barracks would be closed, along with the Craigiehall site, as part of the Strategic Defence Review, while a new super-barracks for up to 2000 troops would be built at an RAF glider field at Kirknewton.
The plans were condemned at the time as “historic vandalism”, “driven by bean-counters” and “flying in the face of reason”.
And today the MoD confirmed further work needed to be done on the condition, capacity and potential of the various sites.
Remarks by the army’s commanding officer in Scotland, Major General David Shaw, at a recent High Constable’s dinner cast doubt on whether the proposals would go ahead.
His comments led to speculation that the Kirknewton plan could scrapped and both Redford and Dreghorn could win a reprieve.
But the Evening News understands a more likely scenario is that Redford would be retained and Dreghorn sold. One source said: “The Treasury wants there to be a capital gain from all this. Redford has far more restrictions in terms of listed building status and it’s bigger, so the thinking is it could be saved.
“Dreghorn is right on the bypass and doesn’t have the same kind of restrictions. The feeling is it would have a better chance of bringing in a big capital receipt.”
The plan for a super-barracks at Kirknewton – said to cost up to £400 million to build – would be abandoned. Sources said the troops destined for Kirknewton could be accommodated at Redford and under-used bases at Rosyth and Arbroath.
Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart, who is campaigning to save both barracks and establish Craigiehall as a Scotland-wide headquarters, said there was no need for a super-barracks.
He said: “It’s clear the army think they can accommodate the greater numbers proposed in the basing review within their existing Scottish estate.
“It needs to be used more efficiently and part of that is combining the three headquarters in one base at Craigiehall. We just need to get a bit more innovative in how to distribute these forces that are moving into Scotland and I think we can manage to do that without spending £600,000 on a super-barracks no-one really wants.”
Colinton councillor Jason Rust said saving Redford would be good news for the area.
He said: “If one base is disposed of and one retained, it would at least keep the relationship between the army and Colinton which has been built up over the years.
“And it would be welcome news for local businesses in Colinton and Oxgangs who would lose a lot of custom if both barracks closed.”
An MoD spokesman said: “Work will start in the new year to determine the potential capacity, condition, utilisation or disposal opportunities of a number of existing MoD sites. Kirknewton, Craigiehall, Redford and Dreghorn, along with other military bases in Scotland and the wider UK, will be scrutinised under this work.”