UK defence cuts ‘brutal’ blow to Scots economies

Fort George near Inverness

Scotland’s deputy First Minister John Swinney said the UK Government’s decision to reduce Scotland’s defence estate by 20% is a “huge blow for the country.”

The Scottish Government said the UK Government has confirmed a reduction of a fifth in Scotland’s defence footprint in its plans to close a number of sites including Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, Redford Barracks in Edinburgh and Fort George near Inverness.

The UK Ministry of Defence has also announced closure of MoD Caledonia in Rosyth, marking the end of the UK Navy’s presence in Fife.

Swinney called for the UK Government to clarify the impact of the decisions, “having failed to consult with the Scottish Government” in advance of the announcement.

“Today’s announcement is a huge blow for the country,” said Swinney.

“Our defence footprint has been worn away through successive cuts, so it is unacceptable that the UK Government has announced a near 20% reduction to our defence footprint.

“This comes just three years after the last Army Basing Plan, billed as offering stability and certainty.

“These brutal cuts spell the near total removal of the Army from large parts of Scotland and the end of the Royal Navy’s presence in Fife.

“It is deeply distressing to witness the announcement to close truly historic sites, such as Glencorse, home to the Army for almost 150 years, and Fort George, a garrison for almost 250 years.

“Communities in Stirling and Edinburgh will also be disappointed to learn that the Army will be leaving Forthside in Penicuik and both barracks at Redford.

“The decision to cut these historic ties will be met with understandable anger in Fife, Midlothian, the Highlands and throughout Scotland.

“These cuts will have far-reaching economic and social impacts, placing jobs at risk, both directly and indirectly.

“Despite our best efforts, the UK Government has continually refused to engage with the Scottish Government ahead of these decisions being taken.

“It is vital that we now understand what this means in terms of personnel numbers and I call on the MoD to guarantee that Army units are not further diminished or moved out of Scotland altogether.

“Scottish Ministers and local communities have clearly set out our opposition to these cuts – it is deeply disappointing that Scotland’s views have not been taken on board.”