DCSIMG

Jobs warning over RAF Kinloss closure

The closure of the RAF Kinloss could cost £500,000 a week to the local economy, the UK Government was told today.

The fate of the Moray base was effectively sealed last week when Prime Minister David Cameron announced the cancellation of replacement Nimrod aircraft, which had already cost 3 billion.

Fears have grown that the Tornado fleet at the region's second base, RAF Lossiemouth, could be moved to England.

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, has now written to Defence Secretary Liam Fox outlining his concerns.

The SNP leader said: "There is evidence that the consequences of the potential RAF withdrawal are already being felt within the local economy.

"Our initial analysis suggests that withdrawal of the base will take at least 0.5 million from the Moray economy for every week that the base remains inactive.

"The knock-on costs to the taxpayer of benefits payments and the indirect impacts on housing, health, education and mental health will also need to be considered.

"These economic considerations should be factored into any decisions by the UK Government on both the future of RAF Kinloss and RAF Lossiemouth."

Mr Salmond, who met a Moray taskforce in Edinburgh yesterday, called on the Westminster Government to commit to keeping Tornados in the region.

The SNP says leaked defence documents indicated the fleet would be centralised at RAF Marham, Norfolk, which would spell the end for Lossiemouth.

The First Minister added: "The sense of loss in Moray is dramatic and it is worth noting that local community and business leaders in Moray powerfully describe the possibility of losing both RAF bases as unthinkable.

"A decision to base the Tornados at RAF Lossiemouth would give this community hope and would help to limit the social and economic damage inflicted by changes at RAF Kinloss."

Highlands and Islands Enterprise estimated that RAF Kinloss supports 2,341 jobs on the base and in the wider community, and contributes 68 million to the local economy every year. The base at Lossiemouth supports a further 3,370 jobs and contributes 90.3 million annually.

Taken together, the bases support about 16% of all employment in the region. RAF households account for 7% of the area's population.

Community leaders hope Kinloss may be used as an Army base in the future.

Mr Salmond's letter to the Defence Secretary welcomes other decisions from the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which was announced in the House of Commons on Tuesday last week.

He noted the confirmation that the 5 billion aircraft carrier project would continue, protecting shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde.

But he said the situation in Moray was "a national issue of national importance to Scotland".

He outlined "grave concerns" about the threat to jobs and the wider community, which he portrayed as the most RAF-dependent part of the UK.

Mr Salmond criticised the Government for a lack of clarity on timescales and support for the area.

Turning specifically to Kinloss, he said the decision was a "huge emotional blow" one year after the base celebrated its 70th anniversary.

The letter also drew in concerns about other armed forces bases, adding: "Aside from the immediate issues facing Moray, I am particularly concerned about decisions still to be made in relation to Craigiehall and Fort George which, combined with potential losses in Moray, mean that we run the risk of leaving only 8,000 service personnel in Scotland.

"I believe that this is of constitutional significance and I will return to this point once the implications of the SDSR have been analysed in detail."

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page