MoD plan is for Condor to become an army base - but not for five years!

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RM CONDOR could be set to have new occupants after it was announced the Royal Marines of 45 Commando will move out of the Arbroath base.

The findings of the strategic defence review was announced in the House of Commons on Monday by defence secretary Liam Fox, with Condor being one of the affected sites.

After mounting speculation that the unit would move south to join the other Marine Commandos, Dr Fox confirmed the move but said the base would then accommodate an army regiment.

However, the minister added the move would not take place until at least 2015, when the next strategic defence review will be completed.

Angus MP Mike Weir, who has long campaigned for the retention of Condor due to the economic benefits it brings to the area, had pressed the defence secretary for more details about the plans.

He said: “Whilst the news that 45 Commando are to move is disappointing it is not unexpected.

“There was a complete lack of detail on time-scale in the statement, I pressed the secretary of state who has now confirmed that no changes will be considered prior to 2015/16 at the earliest.

“Meantime, 45 Commando will remain at Condor.”

He continued: “Condor remains an important part of the local economy and it is vital that it’s future is not left in any doubt.

“Between now and the next strategic review I will be strongly pressing the MoD for some clarity and an assurance that the there will be no break between the move of 45 Commando and the use of the base by a new unit.”

The Marines of 45 Commando have been based at RM Condor since 1971 after taking over the base which was left unoccupied after the Fleet Air Arm moved out.

Over the past 40 years, the community has formed a strong bond with the unit and has offered massive support to them, especially as they are currently on their fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.

And in 2003 they were granted the freedom of Arbroath and have paraded through the town centre on many occasions.

Mr Weir added: “Over the last 40 years the men of 45 Commando have developed a very strong bond with the local community. We will all be sad to see them leave.

“Many families in the Arbroath and wider Angus area have close connections with members and former members of 45 Commando and take a keen interest in the unit.

“The people of Angus have shown their feelings with the turnout for homecoming parades after their last tour of duty in Afghanistan, and I am sure will do so again when their current tour ends.”

Former Royal Marine Chic Grant runs the Outdoor Action shop on Arbroath High Street and is involved with the local Royal Marines Association.

And he said after months of rumours, he was shocked by the decision the Ministry of Defence has made.

He added: “There is a strong bond here, especially with the Royal Marines Association and a lot of former marines have stayed in the town and even run businesses in the town.

“They have become part of the landscape so it will be hard to see them go.”