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Defence cutbacks announced

Eight military bases to close in Scotland

John Swinney head shotEight of Scotland’s 22 military sites will be closed over 15 years, including the 250-year-old Fort George near Inverness.

The Army responded positively to the news, describing it as an “exciting opportunity”.

Unions and communities reacted with disappointment to the decision by Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, saying thousands of jobs would be put at risk.

The Ministry of Defence is seeking to save £140 million and the cutback will also mean closure of the last Royal Navy site in Fife.

Three barracks will be shut in the Lothians, including the 150 year-old Glencorse Barracks near Penicuik and Redford Cavalry and Infantry Barracks in Edinburgh.

Kinloss Barracks – which was also the subject of a public campaign after fears were raised over its future – was left off the list of disposals.

The Scottish Government described the announcement as a “huge blow” to military communities across Scotland.

A total of 56 military bases will shut across the UK by 2040. The UK government said much of the land will be used to build homes.

In a statement to the Commons, Sir Michael said the government would invest in “fewer, better” locations in Scotland and that military spending in Scotland will be higher than currently.

He said: “Our proposals will release eight sites over the next 15 years. We will invest in main centres of specialisation.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney (pictured) described the cuts as “brutal”, while SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara said the outcome of the Ministry of Defence Estates Review had been worse than feared for Scotland.

He said the Trident nuclear weapons system was forcing cuts on conventional military facilities.

Of all the bases scheduled to close, the planned shut down of Fort George, near Ardersier on the inner Moray Firth, will be the most keenly felt.

The barracks, home to the Black Watch, was built after the 1746 Jacobite rising and a campaign to save it had the backing of the actor Hugh Grant, who helped raise funds four years ago for a museum dedicated to his father’s unit, the Seaforth Highlanders.

 

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