The campaign for the retention of RAF Leuchars heads to London today as Sir Menzies Campbell MP, North East Fife MSP Iain Smith and Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Tavish Scott MSP meet with Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey at the Ministry of Defence.
Speaking ahead of the meeting this afternoon Sir Menzies said:
â€œThe object of this meeting with the Armed Forces Minister is two-fold. Firstly to emphasise the strategic case for Leuchars and to point out that the factors which determined that Leuchars should have the responsibility for the air defence of northern Britain remain exactly the same today as they did when the base was chosen as the home for the three Eurofighter Typhoon squadrons. I have yet to hear any strategic justification for taking that responsibility away from Leuchars.
â€œSecond, to emphasise the close integration between the base and the surrounding community economically, educationally and socially.
â€œI will also take the opportunity to point out that in addition to the Typhoon squadron, Leuchars is a centre of defence excellence for other assets such as the RAF Regiment, soon to be deployed to Afghanistan and 71 TA Engineer Regiment, members of which have served abroad on many occasions in the past.â€
Iain Smith MSP said:
â€œThe importance of RAF Leuchars is in no way restricted to its irrefutable strategic defence significance. It is woven into the fabric of North East Fife and its surrounding communities by way of pupils for local schools, consumers of services and businesses, and not least as an economic driver for Fife and Tayside.
“While the defence case for its retention alone is compelling and overwhelming, the ramifications of closure would be devastating to the area.
“RAF Leuchars is far more than just a military base, it is central to this community.â€
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott MSP said:
â€œIâ€™m going to London to make the case for RAF Leuchars direct to the UK Government. I travelled to Lossiemouth to speak at the rally against closing their RAF base and now I want to make the case for RAF Leuchars
â€œAll parties came together with the Scottish Government to make a joint submission to the UKâ€™s Defence Review. In it, we made clear our opposition to the closure of Scottish bases.
â€œI will set out the impact that closing this base would have on Fife and the surrounding area. It shouldnâ€™t be a case of either Moray or Leuchars. Both play important roles in the UKâ€™s defence and both should remain open.â€