Scottish army barracks ‘could shut sooner than planned’

The number of regular soldiers in Scotland would be reduced by around 1700 if the closures go ahead.

Scottish army barracks ‘could shut sooner than planned’ STV News

Concern is growing about the future of two army regiments based at barracks in the Highlands.

An announcement is expected soon on the future of Fort George near Inverness, home to the Black Watch.

It was expected to close in 2032 but that could be accelerated to ‘meet the demands of the cyber era’, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

The Glencorse and Redford barracks in Midlothian and Edinburgh are also earmarked to close, while a regiment of the Royal Engineers at Kinloss in Moray could relocate to England.

The move would see the number of regular soldiers in Scotland reduced by around 1700.

Conservative MSP Edward Mountain, a former army major, defended the move to close at least one of the Highland barracks.

He said: “I don’t believe Fort George offers good accommodation for soldiers. In fact, it’s classed as substandard, so I see Fort George as a logical place to close.

“However, when it comes to Kinloss, that is actually providing excellent facilities and accommodation for soldiers and I think it’s really, really important that we keep footfall of the Army in Scotland, which is why I would not support the closure of Kinloss.”

The potential relocation of the Royal Engineers at Kinloss as part of the shakeup is a worry for the SNP-led council in Moray.

Graham Leadbitter, Moray council leader, said: “We have a long and strong history with the military and the economic shock of a base closure would be really significant for the local economy.

“And it would be devastating for the local community. It feels less like levelling up and more like shutting down.”

Local business are bracing themselves for the impact of any reduction in the number of troops based in the area.

Pearl Hamilton of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “I don’t want it to be all doom and gloom. I always think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I think Moray folk are so resilient.

“We will come back. We will come back with new businesses if those decisions are made to pull the regiment out.”

When Kinloss barracks was cast into doubt in 2016, it was estimated that closure would cost the local economy £30m a year.

The Ministry of Defence said plans for structural reform are not yet finalised.

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