By Kirsty Topping
RAF Leuchars will close and be handed over to the army, a Scottish MP claimed today.
Thomas Docherty said he had been briefed by officials that the Fife airbase was
“for the chop.”
Docherty, a member for Dunfermline, warned that there could be a gap of up to four years between the RAF leaving and the army taking over.
The MP controversially revealed the news on a local radio station after losing patience with officials, who he accused of
“dragging out the decision.”
Speculation has been rising in recent weeks that RAF Leuchars would lose out to RAF Lossiemouth as defence chiefs desperately try to save money.
The Ministry of Defence today dismissed the claims as
But if true, it would likely mean that RAF Leuchars’ Typhoon jets will be transferred to Lossiemouth and the Tornado bombers will be moved from Lossiemouth to RAF Marham in Norfolk.
A spokesman for Thomas Docherty said:
“Thomas is a member of the Defence Select Committee and he has been briefed that RAF Leuchars is for the chop and that the delay is because the Army and the RAF are arguing over the timetable for handover.
“There could be a gap as big as four years between the RAF leaving and the Army moving in.
“Thomas has slammed the MoD for dragging out the decision. He opposes the decision to close Leuchars. “
A spokesperson for North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell and a member of the taskforce to save RAF Leuchars, said he did not know who Mr Docherty’s sources were but that his information is incorrect.
“What he’s saying is not what I’m hearing,’ he said.
“He’s claiming that the base will close but the MOD publicly stated just two days ago that no decision had been made.
“The army has said that they would prefer to be at Leuchars because it’s closer to the central belt but the army does not make the decision, ministers do.
“There is nothing more to add to Sir Menzies’s previous comment, which is based on direct conversations with Ministers who will make the decisions, about the ill-informed chatter and gossip about the future of RAF Leuchars.”
Sir Menzies had previously said:
“The debate about RAF Leuchars has been characterised too often by speculation which has subsequently proved to be totally without foundation. “
He said that he had received assurances from ministers that
“no announcement is imminent’ and that the decision would be made by ministers and not MOD officials.
“Rumours of this kind will not deflect in any way the continuing campaign for the retention of RAF Leuchars. “
Earlier this year Sir Menzies obtained figures which showed that RAF Leuchars had more flying days than other bases.
Since 2008 the Fife base lost just seven flying days due to weather and other reasons compared the average at other bases of 25 per year.
An MoD spokeswoman said: “It’s simply not true that RAF Leuchars is closing, this is incorrect speculation. The work is ongoing and a decision has not been made.”
An petition to Save RAF Leuchars has attracted nearly 30,000 signatures and was submitted to Downing Street with an Armed forces Minister saying it was
“an impressive document.”