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Fort George army base closure fears ahead of UK Government defence spending review to be completed this year


By Alasdair Fraser

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Fort George looking across to Chanonry Point and the Black Isle,
Fort George looking across to Chanonry Point and the Black Isle,

Fears are growing that the historic Fort George army base near Inverness could close sooner than planned as part of UK Government defence cuts.

Up to 1,700 soldiers could be axed across Scotland as the Ministry of Defence looks to reduce spending and create a leaner army to meet modern demands, according to The Sunday Times.

Fort George would be one of three of Scotland’s seven garrisons facing closure in a spending review to be finalised by the end of the year.

Home to the Black Watch regiment, Fort George was to close by 2032, along with the Glencorse and Redford barracks in Edinburgh.

If such a plan was implemented, the number of regular soldiers based in Scotland would be cut from 3,700 to 2,000.

In March, a Westminster defence review committed to trimming the size of the army from 77,820 soldiers to 72,500.

HRH The Duke of Rothesay, Royal Colonel, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland attends a parade and Families Day at Fort George Inverness..
HRH The Duke of Rothesay, Royal Colonel, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland attends a parade and Families Day at Fort George Inverness..

A recommendation is expected to be given to government ministers by the end of the autumn, the Ministry of Defence said, with a final decision to be returned by the end of the year.

The Scottish proposals would be likely to stir fierce political opposition within the Holyrood parliament.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has previously voiced opposition to the closure of the Kinloss Royal Engineers barracks in his Moray constituency.

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, Gordon Macdonald, said: “The looming threat of these closures and cuts has been going on for years and, quite frankly, it’s a disgrace.

However, an MoD spokesman said: “The plans for structural reform [of the army] are not yet finalised so speculation at this stage is unhelpful and misleading.”

Fort George, built to control the Highlands in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745, replaced a previous structure built after the 1715 Jacobite rebellion.

The current fortress has never been attacked and has since remained in continuous use as a garrison.

In November 2016, the Ministry of Defence announced that the site would close in 2032, with Defence Minister Sir Michael Fallon commenting that it was no longer needed because Highland rebellions were over.


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