PLANS to regenerate the former RAF Machrihanish airbase on the Kintyre peninsula will be outlined today after it was sold for £1 by the Ministry of Defence to a community group.

The former Cold War base which boasts the second-longest runway in Europe has been largely disused since the military pulled out in the mid-1990s.

The owners hope to develop housing, businesses and community centres on the 1000-acre site, boosting the local economy and generating jobs.

News of the buyout, made under community right-to-buy legislation, came as nearby Campbeltown was named yesterday alongside Dunoon as the Scottish towns most at risk of further job losses and cutbacks as the double-dip recession continues.

The Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (Macc), a charity controlled by local people, has been trying to buy the land for several years but has struggled to convince the Scottish Government its plans were viable.

The site is home to Campbeltown Airport and a wind-turbine manufacturing facility but these will not be affected by the sale as they are on long leases.

An independent valuation carried out on behalf of Macc put the value of the site at £1, noting that "significant capital investment" will be required as the buildings are in a run-down condition and annual incomes do not match its running costs.

There is also likely contamination of the land as a result of its former military use but it is thought the MoD will pay for cleaning up any dangerous substances found there.

A survey of nearly 6000 residents conducted by Macc in 2010 found overwhelming support for the buyout, but its findings were initially rejected by the Scottish Government in August 2010.

In a letter setting out their reasons, ministers said the plans drawn up by Macc had been badly thought out and were not in the public interest. It gave them a zero score for sustainability and said they represented a medium to high risk. However, following a second ballot carried out by Macc, the Government approved Macc's plans.

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson, who is due to visit the former airbase this morning, welcomed news of its purchase yesterday. "Land ownership is key to building independent, resilient rural communities and creating a sense of confidence and community empowerment. That's why the Scottish Government fully support buyouts and are committed to providing opportunities for rural communities to acquire land," he said.

The UK Government's Scottish Secretary Michael Moore told BBC Scotland the community had been "working very hard" on the deal for years.

He said: "I am delighted that, using right-to-buy legislation and working closely with the Scottish Government and the MoD, we now have a position where the local community body will be able to take over the asset and make sure it works for the community and builds the local economy."

The base housed one of only three US Navy Special Warfare teams in the world, as well as an American Seal commando unit and Royal Marines.