Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has written to the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon MP, to ask whether the Ministry of Defence feels it has any moral obligation to help with the clean up costs of the former RAF radar station in Aird Uig. This follows a recent visit to the site where Alasdair Allan met with Gallan Head Community Trust.
The local community in Aird Uig have recently voted in favour of plans to purchase the site and transform it into a community and visitors centre for public use. Notably there is a proposal to install underwater microphones and turn the facility into a spot for whale listening.
However, before these plans can go ahead there would first need to be a clean up operation of the former top secret military site. There are fears that the costs involved in cleaning up the environmental waste could be a burden the local community would struggle to bear.
Commenting after a visit to the site, Alasdair Allan said:
“I would like to congratulate the residents here for voting in favour of a community buyout of this former military base, situated amongst some of the most stunning scenery you will find anywhere in Scotland.
“The Community Trust here have very ambitious and exciting plans to develop this facility into something that can be of benefit to the local community and offer a unique attraction for visitors to the island.
“However, dealing with the state of the buildings and cleaning up the environmental waste left behind by the MOD would place a severe financial burden on the community were they not to receive any assistance. I believe the MOD have a moral obligation to the community to leave the site fit for future use. Considering the site was bought for a nominal amount in the 1950s it seems that this is the least they should be doing.”
Martin Hayes, Chairman of Gallan Head Community Trust, added:
“The remarkable Gallan Head peninsula has been inaccessible to the public for many years. We are grateful for the strong support we have been given for our plans to make the Gallan Head an amenity for all to appreciate and to enjoy. Before we can complete the Community Right to Buy process however, we need to ensure that the land can be made safe for public access. No-one wants to see a small community take on a substantial liability without the resources to deal with it.
“Our hope is the current landowner will arrange for the main hazards to health and safety to be removed prior to sale.