Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford met with a delegation from the campaign to save RAF Lossiemouth in London today as they took their fight to Whitehall. 30 campaigners journeyed overnight by bus to hand a 30 000 signature petition into 10 Downing Street before lobbying MPs.
Speaking from the House of Commons, Eilidh Whiteford said:
"RAF Lossiemouth is hugely important to the North-east economy and if it were to be closed that would be an economic catastrophe
“In addition, there will be a hugely increased risk to lives on sea and land by closing the search and rescue services at Lossiemouth which currently serve the fishing and offshore oil and gas industry.
"The community spirit that exists is hugely important for the morale of serving personnel at the base. I’m therefore proud to give my full support to the campaigners and wish them every success as they bid to persuade Whitehall mandarins and the Tory-led Government to think again."
SNP Defence Spokesperson and MP for Moray Angus Robertson, who accompanied the group said:
“It’s now almost three months since the Defence Secretary published the Strategic Defence and Security Review, yet we are no further forward in getting any clarity around final base closure decisions or what support and assistance the UK Government intend to provide to communities affected by closures or downsizing.
“Scotland has endured mammoth defence cuts over the last decade, and all the evidence surrounding the SDSR suggests that the Ministry of Defence is set to continuing the trend of concentrating defence manpower, basing and spending in the South of England.
“At present there are only 12,190 UK service-personnel in Scotland. Since the last defence review in 1997 there have been more than 10,000 defence job losses in Scotland and there has been a defence under-spend of at least £5.6 billion. This under-spend constitutes a 36% budget shortfall. Scotland has seen a severe defence shortfall and contraction which cannot continue.”
Lossiemouth SNP Councillor and Chair of the ‘Save RAF Lossie’ Action Group, David Stewart, added:
“The battle bus has taken us through rain, sleet and snow to deliver this 30,000 strong petition to the Prime Minister. We are absolutely clear that Lossiemouth must not close.
“The community of Lossiemouth and the wider community of Moray and beyond have made clear their views with massive march and rally and now with the petition.
“The community integration between the armed forces and the local community has been built up with over 70 years of RAF presence in Moray and the support that integration provides for the armed forces personnel and their families must not be lost at the stroke of a pen.”