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Highland Council backs Sutherland spaceport

Words: Roger Milne
Sutherland spaceport approved / iStock-537703358

Proposals for a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, proposed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), has been approved by members of the Highland Council in line with the recommendation of officials. The decision is now being reviewed by Scottish ministers.

The project, known as Space Hub Sutherland, is earmarked for an area of peatland next to the A838 on the Melness Crofters Estate on the A’ Mhòine peninsula, about 10 kilometres by road from Tongue.

Launch-related infrastructure will include a control centre, 2.5km of road and a launch pad, occupying a total of just over 3.1 hectares of the 307-hectare site.

The council received 457 objections to the project and 118 representations backing the scheme, which has a price tag of nearly £18 million.

Local community councils supported the proposals because they are expected to create new jobs.

A key planning condition is a requirement for launches to be limited to just 12 a year because of the amount of plastic and metal debris falling into the sea.

An estimated five tonnes of carbon fibre reinforced plastic and seven tonnes of metal alloy would drop into the sea each year on the basis of a dozen launches, according to the report to the council’s North Planning Applications Committee.

The first launch could be in 2022.

Image credit | iStock