Politicians have reacted with anger after it emerged talks on the future of Kinloss barracks began four months ago without the public being told the base could be closed.
Fears were raised yesterday after local MP and Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson claimed the site was being considered as part of an Ministry of Defence cost-saving drive.
However, a spokesman for Moray Council told The Scotsman that senior council officials met the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which manages the military estate, in April.
Concern is mounting that the base, which was only handed over to the army after the withdrawal of the RAF four years ago, could once again be at risk.
A review of every military site in the UK is being carried out, with those deemed surplus to requirements set to be sold off for housing development. Proceeds will be reinvested in the armed forces.
“The fact that Moray Council were speaking to the MoD about the future of Kinloss Barracks as far back as April – four months ago – and that this is only coming out now is scandalous,” Robertson said.
“We could potentially be only weeks away from a decision by the MoD and it seems we are reliant on leaks to get information of huge importance to Moray that the council has been aware of all along.”
Moray Council’s meetings with the MoD are confidential, but a spokesman confirmed discussions included Kinloss barracks and the defence estates review, which aims to save as much as £1 billion by selling off a third of the land used by the armed forces.
The spokesman said: “Senior officers of the council have had discussion with representatives of the DIO as part of the MoD’s footprint review.
“Given its close association with the military bases in its area, the council is frequently involved in discussions on a wide range of issues and by their nature these discussions are generally informal and confidential.”
Fort George, the historic home of the Seaforth Highlanders and current barracks of the Black Watch, is already the subject of a campaign following fears it could be closed as part of the review.