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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
MoD costing 'closure of Kinloss'
Nimrod at RAF Kinloss
The MoD said it would not comment on leaks
Reports that the Ministry of Defence has ordered a secret report into the costs of closing RAF Kinloss have provoked an angry reaction.

The Scottish National Party has accused military officials of betraying the Moray base.

A review of bases is under way and it was announced last month that 390 jobs were to go at nearby RAF Lossiemouth.

The MoD said it would not comment on leaks and said no decisions would be taken until the review was completed.

The Press and Journal newspaper has claimed that the MoD decided in principle to base the RAF's fleet of new-generation Nimrod aircraft at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, with the loss of 1,500 jobs at Kinloss.

'No consultation'

The SNP branded the reported cost analysis a "disgrace".

Moray MP Angus Robertson said: "The MoD has an obligation to hold to its promises.

"We were promised an open, fair and transparent review and that there would be consultation with the local community - there hasn't been any local consultation and we hear they are already costing for closure.

"They're not doing that with any other bases and they are doing it with Kinloss, that's unacceptable."

The two air stations at Lossiemouth and Kinloss are worth nearly 2m a week for the local economy.

Black Watch tank
The Tories have said their party would reinstate Army regiments scrapped in Scotland.
Meanwhile, First Minister Jack McConnell has said he was opposed to plans to merge Scotland's infantry regiments.

Senior army officers have recommended that the Kings Own Scottish Borderers and the Royal Scots merge as part of moves to form one Scottish regiment containing five battalions.

But Mr McConnell said he thought the individual identity of the six existing regiments should be retained.

It comes as moves have been made by Tory chiefs to end the confusion about party pledges to reinstate any Army regiments scrapped in Scotland.

Party co-chairman Liam Fox stepped in after Shadow Defence Secretary Nicholas Soames appeared to disown the promise by leader Michael Howard.

Dr Fox said on Thursday that Mr Howard's pledge stood.

However, he made no comment on a suggestion by Mr Soames that he had not been consulted by his leader.

Dr Fox insisted: "The policy by the party is the statement that Michael Howard made. I think that is quite clear."

The party was thrown into disarray on defence cutbacks when Mr Soames suggested on Wednesday it might not be possible for a Conservative government to reinstate axed regiments, if it took a long time for them to get back to office.

Army colonels in Scotland, which currently has six infantry regiments, have said they want to merge two - the Royal Scots and the King's Own Scottish Borderers - which would then become one of five battalions in a new Scottish "super-regiment".

Return to power

Dr Fox told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme on Thursday: "We hope we can reverse it and we will be doing everything we can to do so.

"One of the problems we have is what Labour will do before we can get a chance to get back to office."

He went on: "The problem is easily resolved - the quicker we can get back to office, the less damage can be done by Labour.

"But it's certainly our intention to reverse what we think are irresponsible and damaging cuts."

And the Tories' ability to undo the cuts would be dependent on how soon they were returned to power, he said.




SEE ALSO:
Colonels call for regiment merger
06 Oct 04  |  Scotland
Tories taunted over regiment vow
06 Oct 04  |  Scotland
Colonels discuss army cuts plan
04 Oct 04  |  Scotland
Pledge to reverse regiment cuts
01 Oct 04  |  Scotland
Moray RAF base to lose 390 jobs
16 Sep 04  |  Scotland


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