Kinloss Barracks facing closure just four years after it was axed as an air force base should not be a surprise, according to the final RAF commander there.
JJ Johnston is using his military experience as one of the leading figures in the fight to save the barracks as vice-chairman of the Moray Economic Partnership.
Last night the former air force base commander called for calm heads and strategic thinking to make the case to save the site once again.
Mr Johnston said: “Nobody should be surprised about it. Government agencies are permanently under scrutiny to save money, the military is no different.”
The base faces closure as part of an estate review from the Ministry of Defence aiming to net £1billion and reduce its footprint by 30%.
Mr Johnston added: “The defence can only effectively make money from ground that is usable, which is why they’re careful to only sell off sites that will be used for housing. The reality is that’s where they make their money.
“We are better placed to understand the process now, which is why we want the consultation that was promised after the last time.
“The situation now is similar to the last one but we need to be careful not to fight the battle on the old rules. The regiment and their families are now integrated into Moray and we should be engaged about the issues.”
The Moray Economic Partnership is currently researching the barracks’ value to the region to show the wider impact it has.
Last night the MoD repeated no decisions had been made about any bases in the review and the process was not advanced enough to consider a consultation. It is understood a decision about the future of the barracks could be made in less than two weeks.
Mr Johnston revealed the call to move the army regiment to the RAF base in Moray was almost made too late.
He said: “We were formally 11 months down the road in the closure program when I got a call from one of the ministers saying ‘I hope you’ve not gone too far with your closure plans’.
“We were literally in the progress of signing the contract to demolish the barracks block. If it had been a month later it would have been coming down.”