Defence chiefs are poised to hand control of Fort George to Historic Environment Scotland (HES) after the Army is withdrawn from the barracks.
Private memos obtained from the MoD appear to confirm that it intends to transfer the ownership of Fort George, and the regimental Highlanders’ Museum, to the Scottish Government body.
One senior official wrote in May last year: “As it is part of a scheduled monument, the assumption is that we will have to negotiate a transfer of Fort George to HES and therefore we might be able to insist that the museum is also transferred into their care.”
Fort George is owned by the MoD but HES already operates the visitor attraction at the site and has about 45 to 50 staff there at its north operations base.
HES currently pays no rent and contributes about 5% of the of the £740,000 annual utilities bill, although the cost of security would be vastly reduced after the Army departs.
The Highlanders Museum, the largest regimental museum in Scotland outside of Edinburgh, is leased from the MoD at a cost of £1 a year if asked, with the current arrangement due to end in 2050.
The future of around 200 service family homes in Inverness would also have to be discussed, with one MoD e-mail suggestion that if they “would be released through the normal disposal route” if they were not required.
Edward Mountain, Highlands and Islands MSP, has urged Highland Council to reach an agreement with the MoD on the future of the homes.