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U-turn on St Kilda MoD range closure

The Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has announced the scrapping of Ministry of Defence plans to close bases on St Kilda, South Uist and Benbecula in the Western Isles.

The range’s command and control centre, which is run by the private company, QinetiQ on behalf of the MoD, was to close and rocket tests run remotely from South Wales. This was to have resulted in the loss of 125 jobs.

Mr Murphy, speaking to BBC Scotland, said, “The firing range and control station will remain, these 125 jobs will stay, because ultimately while the MoD may have made some savings, the cost to the islands, the islands’ families and the economy would have been too great.”

The National Trust for Scotland, which owns St Kilda, and leases the base on Hirta to the MoD, had previously said it would be unable to manage the island properly without the resources provided by the base.

National Trust for Scotland, which owns St Kilda, previously expressed concerns that the withdrawal of test range staff from Hirta would seriously harm its ability to manage the remote island archipelago.

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