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Scottish RAF bases decision 'to be made after election'

27 January 11 21:52
Tornado jets at RAF Lossiemouth

The armed forces minister has said a decision on the future of Scottish RAF bases will not be made before the Scottish elections in May.

Nick Harvey was speaking during a visit to Moray, which is home to RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth.

Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars in Fife are both under threat due to defence cuts. The closure of RAF Kinloss as an air base has already been confirmed.

Mr Harvey said decisions on the bases will not be made until after 5 May.

He met civilians and staff at both bases, as well as representatives of the Moray Task Force, which was set up with the aim of protecting the area's defence jobs.

He told the BBC: "I've come here to listen, I've listened to people explaining the contribution these two RAF bases make to the local economy and the community.

"The likelihood is that the bases which cease to be used by the RAF will be taken up by the Army in some cases.

"So that's possibly one bit of brighter news on the horizon."

The minister said he understood the decision had "a human impact, a business impact and an impact on the housing market" and insisted the government would do its best to give clarity as soon as it can.

He added: "We haven't actually delayed it any further, we've just offered clarification that an announcement could not be made during the election period, for the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

"From May 6, we should be in a position to make an announcement."

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said there would be shock and astonishment in communities around RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars over an announcement delay, as people were facing a prolonged period of economic uncertainty.

Meanwhile, many people involved in Moray businesses have signed an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron calling on the government to support the local economy amid the RAF uncertainty.

A copy of the letter was also given to Mr Harvey.

A petition with more than 30,000 signatures aimed at saving RAF Lossiemouth was delivered to 10 Downing Street earlier this month.

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