The government has announced a major shake-up of its bases in the UK.
56 military bases will be sold off by 2040, taking the total number of sites to 91 and reducing the MoDs built estate by 30%.
Eight military sites in Scotland will close in the next 15 years, cutting the defence estate there by 20%. Fort George, home of the Blackwatch, will go by 2032 (see below), along with Redford Barracks in Edinburgh.
Kinloss Army Base, however, appears to have been given a stay of execution, after fears it would be sold off.
The Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced the move in the Commons this evening, insisting it will deliver better value for money.
One of the major shocks in this announcement is the closure of Imphal Barracks in York.
Imphal has been an important base for the army for centuries and is currently home to the 1st Division UK Headquarters.
Money from the sale, and that of three other sites in North Yorkshire, will be invested in Catterick as the base becomes home to two of the new strike brigades.
Catterick Garrison is set to be expanded
Both Labour and the SNP have questioned the decision.
"Although we've been primed to expect big reductions in Scotland's defence footprint, having now heard the statement I fear that when a government department tries to spin cutbacks as being investment concentrated in fewer or better locations, what they are actually saying is prepare for a savaging of what remains of Scotland's defence footprint."- Brendan O'Hara MP, Defence Spokesperson, SNP
"The changes proposed in this report are very considerable in scale and there is a real need to ensure they’re delivered in a way that does not cause undue challenges to our forces and to their families... The closing of so many bases will affect the livelihoods of a very significant number of people."- Nia Griffith MP, Shadow Defence Secretary, Labour
It was announced during last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review that £11 billion of 'efficiency savings' were to be made, with land sell-offs and civilian redundancies within the Ministry of Defence expected at the time.
The MoD then announced in January that 12 military sites were going on sale to generate £500 million, followed by a further 10 in March for around £140 million, and another 13 in September to raise £225 million.
It says the land will be used to build new homes, while the funds generated will go back into defence spending.
The MoD's full plans are to:
- Sell 91 sites it owns or manages.
- Derive savings of over £140m of running costs over the next 10 years, rising to nearly £3 billion in total by 2040, which will be spent on defence. This is in addition to the £4bn which will be spent over the next 10 years.
- The £4 billion will come from: £1bn from defence estate disposal this decade, £1bn of estate enhancement funds from the spending review and £2bn under the 'Public finance 2' scheme.
- As at 1 April 2016, the MOD currently controls around 2% of UK land, owning more than 568,000 acres of land and foreshore in the UK (either freehold or leasehold) and holding the rights over a further 548,573 acres.
- The estate includes approximately 50,000 houses, 60,000 technical assets such as hangars or workshops and 20,000 other key assets such as runways and electrical networks.
- The cost of maintaining this estate is approximately £2.5bn per annum.
- It argues that around 40% of its built assets are over 50 years old and do not meet the needs of a modern fighting force.
More - Fort George: A History