Army base closures will have ‘massive impact’ on economy

Redford Barracks will close as part of the latest Army cuts
Redford Barracks will close as part of the latest Army cuts
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HUNDREDS of army families face being uprooted as three Lothians barracks fall victim to a massive Ministry of Defence shake-up.

Defence chiefs confirmed Edinburgh’s Redford and Craigiehall barracks and Glencorse Barracks near Penicuik are among more than 56 sites to shut across the UK.

The three bases are home to around 880 service personnel and civilians.

In total, eight military sites in Scotland will close in the next 15 years, cutting the defence estate by 20 per cent.

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, said the announcement would have a “massive impact” on the Penicuik economy.

He accused the UK Government of “closure by stealth”, adding: “It’s very disappointing. There had been no information in advance.

“I imagine when the local community find out there will be an uproar. I think this is a decision that is going to be really deeply felt in Penicuik and Midlothian.”

Redford was previously earmarked for closure five years ago before the plan was dropped.

Jason Rust, Conservative councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, said: “It will be a concern to the local community. There have been very good links between the civilians locally and the army.

“There will no doubt be a knock-on impact on the local economy. But it’s not until 2022. At least there is the ability for the community to plan ahead. It’s not as if it’s happening tomorrow.”

Army chiefs also announced the closure of the MoD Caledonia naval base in Rosyth, marking the demise of the Navy’s historic presence in Fife.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told the House of Commons military bases would instead be at “fewer, better locations” in Scotland.

And speaking at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh, Major General Alastair Dickinson, the director of Army basing and infrastructure, said: “From a military sense I think this is the right thing to do.”

But critics branded the base closures “brutal” and unions warned thousands of civilian jobs had been thrown into doubt by the move.

Redford will be closed by 2022, with the 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment redeployed within Edinburgh and the rest staying within Scotland.

Troops at Craigiehall will be moved to Dreghorn Barracks in 2018, and those at Glencorse will be redeployed in 2032.

Scotland currently has 10,220 military personnel – a figure set to increase to 12,500 by 2020.