Reaping the benefit of defence dividend

The cloud hanging over other parts of Scotland as a result of the closure of RAF stations and other military facilities due to government cuts may have a silver lining for the Borders.

This region has never had the chance to benefit from the economic boost that comes from having a major military facility in a certain area.

Look at the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the local community surrounding RAF Kinloss, now stripped of its Nimrod aircraft fleet, or the concerns over the possible loss of RAF bases at either Lossiemouth of Leuchars.

But this week we report that the Borders is definitely an option being examined by defence officials for a training base to accommodate the 6,000 troops of a proposed new multi-role mobile brigade.

The cash injection that would be pumped into the region’s economy from the wallets of 6,000 soldiers and their families would be considerable.

There would, of course, be a downside, with a massive increase in road traffic due not just to the private vehicles of these soldiers, but also military hardware such as Land Rovers, trucks and possibly even heavy armoured elements such as personnel carriers and tanks.

But if that was the case, the Borders’ roads infrastructure may also benefit from any military spending to ensure the local transport network was adequate.

It may even boost the oft-queried financial viability of a restored Borders rail link, as many of these returning troops could be from other parts of the UK and would need easy access to train travel.