Hoon could bunker £30m golf resort set for site next to air base

THE Ministry of Defence is blocking a £30 million Scottish golf resort development because it might want to reopen a redundant air base.

The resort would be the biggest regeneration on the Mull of Kintyre for a century, creating 250 jobs and 18 million for an economy devastated by the closure of RAF Machrihanish in 1996.

However, despite widespread support, the future of the scheme - a championship course, 32 timeshare homes in the 700,000 price range and a five-star hotel - rests with Geoff Hoon, the Defence Minister.

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Argyll and Bute Council’s local area committee approved the development and it is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland. The council is expected to give the project the green light at a meeting tomorrow.

But even if it does, the matter will automatically be referred to Mr Hoon because of the MoD objection.

The resort would be on private land, adjacent to the old base, and the MoD claims it might want to reactivate the base in the future. If that happens it could have "safety implications".

The MoD has been accused of hypocrisy by the Scottish-based Australian millionaire behind the scheme. Brian Keating said: "It’s ironic. We are creating the biggest regenerative development in Kintyre for 100 years, to reverse a decade of hardship that was a result of the MoD pulling out. It badly affected the area and reduced the population from 10,000 to 6,000."

The resort would make the Mull of Kintyre a world-class golf venue, attracting millionaire Americans in private jets which could land next to the complex, he said.

George Lyon, the MSP for Argyll and Bute, believes it will "have huge benefits".

An MoD spokesman said: "We may have proposals with regard to the base, and if the council approves the development, it will be referred to Mr Hoon."