Thursday, 20 August 2009

Hebrides Range - taskforce case against closure

In the midst of all the Al Megrahi release drama there is going to be little space in print for the other story I'm covering today - the campaign against the proposed closure of the Hebrides missile range in South Uist.

The local taskforce campaigning against the loss of 125 jobs in the Hebrides delivered their case to the MoD and Downing Street this morning. Councillor Angus Campbell and Angus MacMillan of Storas Uibhist, the community landowners, did the honours.

In a short time the campaigners put together a pretty impressive document which is summarised below. The rest of the document will probably appear on their own website.

Their argument is that down-grading Range Hebrides and running operations remotely from a base in Wales would be damaging to UK strategic interests and would cost more money not save £3 million a year. Here's the executive summary, more in the Herald in the morning.

Response to the Ministry of Defence Consultation
for Hebrides Range
August 2009


The Hebrides Range Task Force (HRTF) has considered the proposals presented by MoD-QinetiQ in the consultative document, ‘Cost Saving Investment Projects Affecting MoD Hebrides and MoD Aberporth Ranges’. Following independent research and assessment of these proposals, HRTF has identified that:

• The rationale behind the MoD-QinetiQ proposals is fundamentally flawed.

• The proposals present a serious strategic risk to UK defence test and evaluation capability. In particular, Jane’s highlight the removal of NiDIR I-Band tracking radars from St Kilda.

• The Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) has resulted in a narrowly focused and damaging proposal from a capability perspective.

• The complexity of the proposals presents a significant commercial risk with serious likelihood of cost escalation and project overrun.

• The proposals put a key strategic defence asset at serious risk.

• The proposals fail to meet project objectives as it does not deliver total net savings until 2019.

• The proposals lack credibility as all options were not fully considered. A ‘Campaign Aberporth’ would have been logical and sensible and should be pursued.

• The loss of the range is deemed unacceptable by MoD, but the loss of 125 jobs poses a serious threat to on-going sustainability and availability.

• Our primary research demonstrates that 203 FTE will be lost as a result of the proposal. This is significantly more than the MoD-QinetiQ projections suggest.

• The total cost to Treasury in terms of loss of income, benefits, output and taxes is estimated at £12.4M.

• The knock-on effects will add a further 30% to the total costs.

• In terms of equivalence, the scale of job losses would amount to approximately 50,000 in Glasgow.

• The annual cost of the total job losses is estimated at £5M.

• The regeneration costs of replacing the jobs, attracting in new residents and maintaining lifeline services is estimated at £10M - £15M over a 5 year period.

• The proposals if implemented will sterilise opportunities for future research and development capacity to the detriment of UK defence capability.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The overall conclusion of the Hebrides Range Task Force is that:

• These proposals will have a serious detrimental effect on a critical UK strategic defence asset.

• These proposals lack credibility and will not achieve anticipated cost savings.

• These proposals will result in significant additional expenditure to UK plc.

• These proposals will have a devastating effect on the local economy.

The Hebrides Range Task Force recommends that based on the details provided in this submission that:

1. The Minister rejects the proposals presented by QinetiQ in relation to the Hebrides Range as they are not in the best interests of UK defence capability, do not provide value for money and will have a devastating impact on a fragile local economy;

2. A fresh approach be developed to the cost saving investment proposals, including a ‘Campaign Aberporth’ option which would produce savings and reduce risk, based around a full independent evaluation and appraisal;

3. The MoD and QinetiQ proactively investigate the wider opportunities presented by the Hebrides Range to ensure the UKs significant global aerospace market share and technology lead is maintained and developed well into the future;

4. The LPTA be reviewed and revised in order to more effectively incentivise QinetiQ to bring new business to Hebrides Range.

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