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RAF Machrihanish

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

The former RAF Machrihanish, near Campbeltown in the west of Scotland, is surplus to defence requirements and will be disposed of.

In considering the way forward in regard to this large but relatively remote site, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has been very aware of the sensitivities that attach to it, not least the impact of change on the local community and the presence of transport links provided by Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (HIAL), which currently leases areas of the site for use as Campeltown airport. To that end, before making the announcement, we have engaged closely with the Scottish Executive (SE), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Argyll and Bute council as well as with other stakeholders.

Having publicly announced our intention to dispose of the site, we will now take the disposal forward in partnership with other Government stakeholders via a joint steering/focus group. We will engage and consult with the local community, businesses and other stakeholders to help determine the best way to dispose of the site balancing departmental, Scottish and local interests (including both the requirement to achieve best value for the public purse and maximising the long-term development potential of this site).

It is also our intention, with the full understanding of the SE, to discuss the way forward with HIAL to ensure that its future is both secure and sustainable under new ownership and to ensure that the transport link will continue.

The relatively remote location of Machrihanish means that the impact of a change of use could be greater than elsewhere.

Twenty people currently work for MOD at Machrihanish including facilities management staff and security guards. It is our intention that the termination of employment and maintenance contracts will be handled sensitively. The other MOD establishment in the travel to work area, the oil fuel depot (OFD) at Campbeltown, will remain open.

MOD will also do all it can to ensure that the interests of tenants other than HIAL, are also protected in the sale process.

On water and waste water services supplied by MOD to its tenants, former MOD housing and local farmers, the Department will do everything possible to ensure that a responsible purchaser will discharge those responsibilities for the future.

This announcement brings to an end a long period of speculation about the future of the former RAF Machrihanish. It is hoped that the disposal will end uncertainty and allow a new era of development and long term prosperity to begin that will benefit both the site and the local community.