“HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT” AT LEUCHARS DECISION

Sir Menzies Campbell MP has expressed his “huge disappointment” that the “committed and passionate” campaign for the retention of RAF Leuchars was unsuccessful.

Sir Menzies said:

“The decision to close RAF Leuchars is a bitter blow for the local community which has, for almost a year, fought a committed and passionate campaign to keep this airbase open. I am hugely disappointed at this decision and still believe that the strategic case for its retention is overwhelming. There has not been a single argument, to my knowledge, that has ever contradicted this.

“The RAF has been in Leuchars for nearly a century. Over that time the military personnel stationed at Leuchars have been taken into the hearts of the people of Fife and become much valued members of our community. We are very proud of the airmen and women stationed here. The bravery and professionalism they have shown in conflicts stretching from the Falklands to Afghanistan has been exemplary. And, for their part, the Leuchars personnel have donated their time and energy to making Fife a better place for everyone to live.

“RAF Leuchars was never meant to close. It was not included in last October’s Strategic Defence Review and I understood that its future was secure. It was only later that it was dragged onto a list of bases being considered for closure, despite the best efforts of the RAF themselves.

“The day after the first media report highlighting a risk to the base was published we mobilised our campaign for retention. We set up a campaign website to attract online petition signatures and we went door to door, through the snow, collecting physical signatures. The box of many thousands of names with which we travelled to London to present to Number 10 Downing Street was described as “impressive document” by the Ministry of Defence and there is no doubt that they understood the strength of feeling locally.

“People from all walks of life have come together to fight to keep the base open. Teachers highlighted the benefits of the base on local services, business pointed out the millions that flowed into the community because of the base and I led politicians of all parties on the floor of the House of Commons in making the strategic defence case for the retention of the base.

“I am steadfast in my view that the decision to close RAF Leuchars has been made for the wrong reasons. This base is best placed to protect the skies above Glasgow and Edinburgh, to patrol important installations like Faslane and Torness, and to answer the call should the need arise to protect the population throughout the UK from a terrorist attack from the air in a manner synonymous with the events in the USA on September 11th 2001. Its closure will have a profound effect on the ability of the Government to protect its citizens.

“The Government has said that the army will instead be based at Leuchars. Our task now is to ensure they live up to that promise and we will be fighting tooth and nail for the cast iron commitment that is required to safeguard the prosperity of the local community.”

ENDS

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