Even though the SDSR promises that it “will be used by units returning from Germany or
retained for other purposes,” the loss of RAF Kinloss will still be a body blow to Moray. For years, it has sustained hundreds of airforce families in Elgin, Forres and Nairn – mine amongst them.
And I can picture the bakeries, shops and other small businesses that will be hit by losing so many clientele. About 6,000 jobs depend on the RAF up there: not just Kinloss but Lossiemouth, 15
miles away, whose future also looks bleak. Jet fuel for the Tornados in Lossie is sent via Inverness harbour, so it would mean job losses there.
The downgrading of Kinloss, of course, means the end of Nimrods. This will likely mean hundreds of redundancies: you can perhaps retrain a pilot, but it’s pretty difficult to redeploy all these air
electronics engineers who looked after the Nimrod – unless you put them on to helicopters. And what Cameron said in the House about the delays in the Nimrod renewal programme is, alas, true – it’s
eight years late, and has cost £3bn already. When I was growing up, we had a saying, “come the revolution and the Mark III Nimrod” – i.e. that it would never happen. It has been, literally, a
joke in the RAF. Now Cameron has axed it.
Moray used to be a Tory stronghold, now it’s SNP-held. Part of me wonders if this is what happens if the Tories give up on Scotland. There are other things Highlanders worry about: the end of the
sleeper train to London and future of Fort George. The MP now representing my hometown of Nairn, incidentally, is one Danny Alexander. Something tells me that he won’t be very popular on his next
trip back up north if these services are cut away. He wanted to be able to cut the cost of fuel in rural areas, to help his constituents – then discovered that he needs to apply to the EU, and have
such a move approved by all member states. Things are looking pretty grim up north. I hope they don’t get worse.