Scotland to keep Royal Marines base in Arbroath

Royal Marines in Afghanistan. Picture: PA
Royal Marines in Afghanistan. Picture: PA
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ROYAL Marines are to remain in Arbroath, it will be announced today, in the government’s military base review – which will include a £100m investment in Scotland.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will reveal what is a U-turn, as it had been widely trailed that 45 Commando would leave the Angus town.

Mr Hammond will also announce the return of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – which trace their history back to the oldest existing cavalry regiment in the world, the Scots Greys – from Germany to Leuchars.

The 550 dragoon guards are set to be joined at Leuchars by a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers battalion of 600, with the former RAF base expected to become the new army headquarters in Scotland.

Another 150 army engineers are to be moved to Kinloss in Moray to join the 700 troops recently redeployed to Leuchars.

Mr Hammond will announce that the RAF will maintain the two runways at Kinloss and Leuchars, despite withdrawing from both bases, leaving the possibility open that they could be used by the air force in the future.

Whitehall sources confirmed the historic Dreghorn barracks and part of the Redford barracks, both in Edinburgh, will be spared the axe and that plans to build a new super-barracks at Kirknewton in West Lothian have been ditched.

But hopes that the army HQ at Craigiehall, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, will be spared are set to be dashed. Plans to move the army into HMS Caledonia in Rosyth have also been dropped. There are hopes it will be used again by the Royal Navy, because of plans to have two aircraft carriers in use rather than just one.

Glencorse barracks in Penicuik looks likely to be upgraded, while it has already been confirmed that Fort George near Inverness will be spared.

The government is set to confirm an overall increase of just 20 per cent on the total army numbers in Scotland from their current level of 3,220.

45 Commando Royal Marines, who had been set to be pulled out in 2016, will now stay at RM Condor in Arbroath.

There had been concerns that North Sea oil and gas platforms would be left unprotected if the marines were to be moved to the south-west of England.

Overall, £1.8 billion will be invested in bases across the UK.

The Defence Secretary is also expected to say most troops stationed in Germany will be back in the UK by the end of 2016, with 4,500 left to return in 2019.

An MoD source said: “Edinburgh, Kinloss and Leuchars will all benefit from a major army presence. We have already moved over 700 personnel into Kinloss and will be moving two major units into Leuchars as part of a £100m investment in new infrastructure in Scotland.

“This is in stark contrast to the uncertain future of the SNP’s back-of-the-envelope defence plan for an independent Scotland, which is long on promises and short of the resources to deliver them.”

Ahead of the announcement today, SNP Westminster leader and defence spokesman Angus Robertson accused the government of breaking promises from the original announcement on the basing review in 2011.

He said: “Less than two years have passed since promises were made that up to 7,000 personnel would return to Scotland, and that there would be new barracks for them.

“In the last ten years alone, the defence underspend in Scotland amounts to over £7bn.”