Sir Menzies Campbell: there is an unanswerable case for retaining RAF Leuchars

In a special article, MP Sir Menzies Campbell tells The Courier why the UK Government should keep RAF Leuchars open.

Sometime this week it will be D-Day for RAF Leuchars.

Ever since Leuchars was unexpectedly included in the discussions about the future of the RAF bases in Scotland there has been a powerful and persuasive campaign for its retention.

Particular tribute must be paid to the local community, which has argued its case with good judgment and great energy. By this time next week we shall know if it has been successful. It most certainly should be because the case for retention is overwhelming.

All the indications are that the RAF, at every level, support retention because it recognises that Leuchars is in the right place at the right time, doing the right job, and should be allowed to continue doing so.

What is that job? It is to protect the people of the northern half of the United Kingdom from any danger from the air. It does so by maintaining aircraft ready at any time of the day or night to repel intruders into UK airspace and to protect us all from terrorist attacks.

Already 6 Squadron, equipped with Typhoon jets, is operating from Leuchars with professionalism and distinction. Millions have been spent in providing the necessary facilities, including the resurfacing of the runway.

Moving the Typhoon from Leuchars will impact not only on RAF personnel but their families as well. There are private sector contracts based in Fife that are essential to the Typhoon. They cannot be compelled to move.

Aircraft at Leuchars, in addition to protecting the population, are able to do the same for sensitive installations in Scotland such as Torness nuclear power station, the oil and gas operations at Grangemouth, and the nuclear submarine base at Faslane.

They are easily able to support operations elsewhere in the UK.

The strategic argument for Leuchars as a base to defend our air space is unchallengeable and no one has ever tried to do so.

Alternative use for Leuchars as a large army base does not stack up. It does not have easy access to necessary training areas and is relatively small.

The road network which surrounds it is inadequate and would require substantial investment and expansion.

Leuchars fits well not only with the local community but with nearby St Andrews. Large scale army deployment would turn St Andrews into a garrison town for which it is ill suited.

The first responsibility of any government is the proper protection of its citizens.

Typhoons are already keeping guard over the population of the northern part of the UK with the same professionalism and commitment that we have come to expect from the RAF.

The convenience of the army as it contemplates the return of so many troops from Germany or the understandable anxiety about the impact of other base closures elsewhere should not be used as a justification for meddling with the established and effective pattern of air defence in the UK.

If it isn’t broken why should we fix it?

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