First minister vows support in RAF Leuchars campaign

image captionA report says 1,260 people are employed at RAF Leuchars in Fife

The Scottish government will "stand shoulder-to-shoulder" with campaigners fighting to save two RAF bases, First Minister Alex Salmond has promised.

Mr Salmond attacked the UK government's "completely unacceptable" plan to delay a decision on the closure of the Leuchars and Lossiemouth bases.

He spoke out as he was meeting councillors and campaigners from the Leuchars Community Group in Fife.

Labour also said it was "defiantly opposed" to defence cuts in Scotland.

Speaking in Fife, the first minister said: "RAF Leuchars is enormously important to the local community.

"The Scottish government will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with campaigners in Leuchars and Lossiemouth to fight for the future of all of our air force bases."

Mr Salmond said Scotland had lost more than 10,000 defence jobs since 1997.

"There has been a cloud hanging over Leuchars and Lossiemouth since October and delaying the decision on their future until the summer is completely unacceptable," he added.

'Devastate communities'

Last month an economic and defence case for retaining a base at RAF Leuchars was submitted to the Ministry of Defence.

The first minister's visit to Leuchars followed a meeting with community and private sector organisations who remain opposed to closure of RAF Leuchars.

The Scottish government said it had been working with Fife Council, Fife Chamber of Commerce and Scottish Enterprise, as well as local MSPs and MPs to show cross-party support to retain RAF Leuchars.

Peter Grant, Fife Council leader, welcomed the visit and called on Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox to meet local groups.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "The Tories can still back down from these plans. Closing Scotland's RAF bases in Moray and Fife will devastate communities for years to come and we will continue to push that message to the UK government."

Mr Gray added: "Closing RAF bases is damaging for the economy and dangerous in terms of the UK's defence interests."

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