Crofters back UK spaceport


November 11, 2018 – Plans for the UK’s first spaceport can move to the next stage after securing the backing of a majority of local crofters.

The plan is to build the spaceport on the Moine peninsula near Tongue in north-west Sutherland.

Melness Crofters Estate (MCE), which owns the prospective launch site for small satellites, has confirmed its intention to work with development agency Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) towards agreeing heads of terms. In a ballot of crofters held by MCE this week, 59% of votes cast were in favour of working with HIE on the spaceport project (27 votes), and 39% were against (18 votes). There was one spoiled ballot paper.

The outcome means that the £17.3m project can now move on to the next phase, which will focus on safety and environmental issues as well as community engagement. A planning application is expected to be submitted to The Highland Council by the end of next year.

The UKVL Sutherland project has already got the go-ahead from the UK Space Agency, which announced in July 2018 that grant funding had been approved. Industry partners Orbex and Lockheed Martin both plan initial launches in the early 2020s. Work on planning and environmental issues is ongoing.

HIE’s project director Roy Kirk said: “The creation of a satellite launch centre in Scotland is a unique and exciting project. We are very grateful to the Melness crofters for agreeing to work with us as we progress plans to make our vision a reality in Sutherland.



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