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MoD confirms Unst radar base plans

| Written by Neil Riddell

The RAF base at Saxa Vord before it was closed and turned into holiday accommodation. Photo: Unst Heritage. The RAF base at Saxa Vord before it was closed and turned into holiday accommodation. Photo: Unst Heritage. THE MINISTRY of Defence is planning to re-establish a radar base at Saxa Vord in Unst – more than a decade after the previous station closed.

An MoD spokesman confirmed on Monday evening that the RAF is planning to install a new radar system on its “remote radar head” at Saxa Vord.

The spokesman said infrastructure work would begin shortly, but no further details are available at this stage. The last radar station closed in April 2006.

It is unclear what job prospects could be associated with the radar base, though it has been suggested around 30 people will be required for setup – with a possibility that the number of permanent posts thereafter could be in double figures.

Since the RAF withdrew from Unst, the UK’s most northerly inhabited island has seen its population drop considerably to an estimated level of just over 600.

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson said it was "excellent news" and a "massive boost" for the island community.

"Rumours have been circulating for a while now so it's good now to have it confirmed and out in the public," he said. 

"We await further details from the MoD and the RAF on what this will mean for the island, but I'm absolutely delighted by the news and look forward to working closely with the MoD hopefully for many years to come."

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael is seeking more information from the MoD on the proposals.

He said: “It’s unlikely you’re going to see a full camp restored to Unst, but anything which is there should be good for the community. It will be bring some activity into the local economy, albeit in a wider sense under circumstances you might not necessarily want.”

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