FOUR Scots MPs have won a victory in their battle with the Ministry of

Defence over repeated complaints of pilots breaking the rules in

low-flying training areas.

The SNP's Margaret Ewing, together with Labour's John Hume Robertson

and George Foulkes and Liberal Democrat Archie Kirkwood met Defence

Minister Viscount Cranbourne back in June seeking action to curb the

nuisance to their constituents in the Borders and Highland training


Now the Minister has told them that RAF police will make secret checks

using Skyguard radar to detect breaches by pilots.

Carrick, Cumnock, and Doon Valley MP George Foulkes, a member of the

all-party Commons Committee on Low Flying, said yesterday: ''One of the

problems we had identified -- even in areas where we accepted that some

low flying had to take place -- was there were still violations by


''They were also going into areas they were prohibited from entering.

''We suggested very strongly that the RAF should deploy their Skyguard

radar system.

''Then they should institute prosecutions against pilots who break the


''Their letter now is basically telling us they have taken notice of

what we had to say, and they are going to deploy Skyguard secretly from

time to time -- pursuing action against pilots who break the rules.

''We jointly welcome this, and feel we have achieved a breakthrough in

persuading the MoD to do this.''

The MPs, who have also urged greater use of simulators for low-level

training, have had backing for that proposal from the Auditor-General

who in a new report has recommended their increased use would save

money, while still providing valuable training.

Last night, Mr Foulkes said: ''While we still want to pursue other

avenues like increasing use of simulators to cut the amount of low

flying even further, we are delighted at this breakthrough.''

The MPs also welcomed the fact that not only will they be alerted when

Skyguard goes into action in their constituencies but Viscount

Cranbourne has told them that the RAF police will, whenever possible,

give the public a chance to examine the Skyguard equipment for

themselves in an accessible location.

The Minister said: ''The first such occasion took place following a

covert survey of the Market Deeping area of Lincolnshire last month.''