Scotland sees cuts as millions are wasted on poor deals and new spending on Trident facilities
THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (MOD) was left to defend the accusation made by the SNP that it had wasted money on poor procurement of military equipment and extra cash for Trident logistics yesterday (Friday 24 February).
The criticism came the same day UK defence minister Sir Michael Fallon visited Scotland to announce an investment to upgrade Scottish military bases by 2020.
However, despite claims of £1.7bn of investment by the UK Government, £1.3bn will go to HM Naval Base Clyde’s waterfront, to support the new Dreadnought class of submarines arriving in Scotland by the 2030s.
The UK Government also confirmed that despite the investment announced at the MoD defence board in Edinburgh, eight military sites are to close in Scotland in the next 15 years.
“These closures come despite the MoD frittering away millions over the last 10 years on “fruitless spend” Gordon MacDonald MSP
Commenting on Sir Michael Fallon’s visit SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald said: “Only months after Michael Fallon announced drastic cuts of £140m to defence in Scotland, he has come to Edinburgh Pentlands to treat the military bases facing closure like a visitor centre.
“These closures come despite the MoD frittering away millions over the last 10 years on “fruitless spend” – money categorised as a complete waste and could have been spent saving the eight military sites in Scotland from closure. The MoD managed to waste £103m on eight Chinook helicopters that weren’t fit for purpose, £1.6m on unused furniture and £24m on cancelling flying lessons.”
Redford cavalry and infantry barracks in Edinburgh Pentlands is among several bases in Scotland due for closure by 2022. However, the MoD has stated that it has in fact restructured the army presence in Scotland so that regiments such as the Black Watch can be settled in Leuchars in East Fife. This move was supported by the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats who expressed hoped that Fife would be a “new home for other Scottish Battalions.”
There are currently 14,000 military regular and reserve personnel and 3,930 MoD civilian staff based in Scotland as of present. Yet in November of last year, the UK Government announced that eight military sites would close in the next 15 years. This means a cut in the Scottish defence estate of 20 per cent.
“Scotland is on the frontline of defending the United Kingdom from growing threats at sea, in the air, and on land.” Michael Fallon
UK defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “Scotland is on the frontline of defending the United Kingdom from growing threats at sea, in the air, and on land. Our commitment to the future of defence in Scotland is underlined by increasing investment in better infrastructure for the Armed Forces helping to keep us safe.”
Of the 56 bases to shut across the UK, the major army facilities are Fort George, north of Inverness; Glencorse Barracks in Midlothian; and the aforementioned Redford cavalry and infantry barracks. The Naval bases MoD Caledonia, Condor airfield, Craigiehall barracks and Stirling’s Forthside barracks will shut.
The SNP’s shadow defence spokesperson Brendan O’Hara MP said: “Another one billion three hundred million pounds to get Scotland ready for Trident renewal is complete folly, and the already out of control costs of Trident just keep on draining the MoD.”
Picture courtesy of STV
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