Leader of The Highland Council writes an open letter to the Secretary of State for Defence
Leader of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson has today written to The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defence, to express her concerns about the future of Fort George.
In her letter she said: “I am deeply concerned at the continued uncertainty around the future of Fort George as an active military barracks.
“While I accept that the Ministry of Defence needs to ensure that it has an estate that is appropriate to its needs, it also must ensure that it not only has an adequate military presence across the whole of the United Kingdom, but is also visible across the whole of the United Kingdom.
“Fort George is the last army barracks in the Highlands with a permanent battalion assigned to it and it is of huge symbolic importance. If the Ministry of Defence are to maintain a footprint across the whole of the UK, it is difficult to see how this can be achieved by entirely removing the army presence in the Highlands.
“If the army is to remain relevant with continued high levels of public support, it needs to retain a visible presence within communities. The Army needs to be seen as part of the society it is there to protect. It is therefore imperative that Fort George is retained as an active military barracks.
“Fort George also hosts the Inverness Training Centre comprising ranges and training areas which to quote the Defence Training Estate Scotland “are ideal venues for battalion-level training, and are used in conjunction with training exercises elsewhere in the Highlands”. In addition the wider Highlands also offers a superb environment for infantry training and Special Forces training with its coastal and marine environment and its physically challenging terrain.
“I will be making this case directly to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel Mark Lancaster when I meet him next month.
“I would also welcome the opportunity to engage with officials in the Defence Infrastructure Organisation on the future of the wider Highland defence estate.
“The Highlands of Scotland have had a long association with the armed forces and have served the Crown loyally for many years and it would be a sad day indeed if the Ministry of Defence were to withdraw from the Highlands.
“I do very much hope that in conducting this review you would bear these points in mind.”