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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Thousands march to support RAF base

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Thousands of people have turned out to march in support of a closure-threatened RAF base.

A high-profile campaign was launched to save RAF Lossiemouth in Moray amid fears that its fleet of fast-jet Tornados could be moved to England as part of the ongoing Westminster defence review.

The region has already been struck a blow with the cancellation of the new generation of Nimrods, which is likely to threaten nearby RAF Kinloss.

A report produced for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) earlier this year estimated the annual economic contribution of the bases, said to support 5,700 jobs, at more than £150 million.

Grampian Police said it estimated there were between 6,000 and 7,000 people at Sunday’s rally.

The Highlands Association Pipe Band led the march into Grant Park, home of the local football club, where Colin McGregor – the brother of actor Ewan McGregor and a former Tornado pilot who served at RAF Lossiemouth – introduced speakers including the First Minister Alex Salmond and Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead.

There were cheers and applause from people at the rally – said to be the largest ever seen in the area – as each vowed to continue the fight for the base.

Marchers held aloft placards with the slogans: “Save RAF Lossie” and “Fighting For Moray”.

They received cross-party support with the attendance Mr Salmond and the leaders of Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, Iain Gray, Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott.

The march set off from Muirton Road, yards from the main entrance to the RAF base. A worker at one of the bases in Moray, who wished not to be named and joined the march, said: “They need to keep it open. It needs to stay open otherwise Lossiemouth and Moray will be a ghost town. It will kill the Moray area. It’s what everybody is feeling whether they work in the bases or live in Moray.”

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