Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 11:11 UK

MP to visit islands rocket range

Rapier missile launched during RAF exercise in Oman
A decision is expected this month on the future of the Uist rocket range

A member of the Commons defence select committee has been invited to tour the Uist rocket range where the Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to axe 125 jobs.

MP Robert Key will meet representatives from both QinetiQ, the range operator, and the MoD.

Defence minister Quentin Davies is due to announce his decision on downsizing the range's workforce this month.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said he hoped the visit would place further pressure on the UK government.

Mr MacNeil said: "This is really a warning shot to the defence minister that if he does axe the jobs, the defence select committee will still maintain an interest in what is going on and there are a number of questions around the haste with which the decision has been made."

Under the planned cuts by the MoD and contractor QinetiQ, the radar station on Hirta would be operated remotely with staff only visiting for maintenance and servicing.

The command and control centre on South Uist has been earmarked for closure by 2014. Rocket trials would run instead from Aberporth in Wales using new technology.

West Camp - an Army base at Balivanich, Benbecula - would remain open but one accommodation block would close, reducing the need for domestic staff.

The camp is linked to training on the Rapier air defence missile system which is used by the Royal Artillery and RAF.

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