Since 2016, the Ministry of Defence has been reviewing the defence estate throughout the UK to ensure we have the most efficient and cost effective set up to deliver the world class bases our nation needs. A significant consultation was undertaken by the UK Government in order to strike the right balance between working with the community and our future defence requirements. Ever since this development, almost three years ago, there has been a consistent feeling in the Arbroath community that RM Condor should remain untouched.
As we all know, many Royal Marines do not just rotate in for a couple of years and then leave. Often, they lay down roots in our community.
There are many connections – from volunteering to community work that goes hand in hand with the serious training and constant readiness for deployment.
When I was elected as the MP for Angus in 2017, I listened to the opinions of local people about the past of the base, its future and how much it means to them.
It became obvious that there is still a variety of uses for that land, to not only maintain Condor but develop it as a defence asset.
So I campaigned within government, at every opportunity, for a long term commitment to the base – the entire base. I am delighted that these representations have been listened to and acted upon. It has been a long time coming but I have to pay tribute to very understanding colleagues within the UK Government.
Defence reviews rightly have to count every cost to the taxpayer against its benefit, but campaigning for the base was the right thing to do for our community. I am proud to have fought its corner.
Sadly, others have been more interested in scoring political points.
On visits to the base, and speaking to constituents in Arbroath, I have heard much dissatisfaction with the local SNP over their behaviour since 2016.
Even last year, they claimed that the base was going to close in the near future.
I cannot tell you how damaging that speculation has been for an institution which has been part of the fabric of Angus life since 1971.
This move to retain the airfield is an important defence decision, but it is also a symbol of how much the local marines are respected, and how great a role they will continue to play in our defence.
This decision has now given 45 Commando a firm foundation to build on.