Ministers give green light for Scotland’s third spaceport
Scottish ministers have given the green light for the country’s third spaceport to be built after confirming they would not oppose the plans.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) proposed building the launch site Spaceport 1 at Scolpaig in North Uist, but it received 244 individual public responses opposing the plans, including a petition with almost 1,000 signatures.
Fishermen also raised concerns as seas around the site will be closed while launches are underway.
Councillors' earlier approval of planning remain in place following the Scottish Government’s decision and development of the site can now progress.
The comhairle hopes the first small satellite launch can begin in late 2024 or early 2025 and could eventually host 10 launches a year.
During launches, a 155-mile exclusion zone will be imposed on seas around the site, including St Kilda’s world heritage site and archipelago.
Spaceport 1 will be the third of its kind following developments in Sutherland and Shetland.
A spokesperson for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “This is another important step forward in the plan to establish Spaceport 1 – a suborbital, vertical launch facility at Scolpaig, North Uist.
“Following receipt of the formal decision notice, our focus will turn to discharging the planning conditions and delivering on the mitigations laid out in the Environmental Impact Assessment.
“Spaceport 1 will provide an opportunity for the economy of the Outer Hebrides to grow and diversify and will provide much-needed local, professional jobs and training opportunities.
“Prospective launch companies are already looking at working with local businesses and establishing an on-island presence to support launches in future years.
“Even at this early stage, it is acknowledged by the launch industry that Spaceport 1 – and the Outer Hebrides – has a critical role to play in the expansion of the Scottish and UK space sectors.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Ministers have carefully considered the spaceport proposal at Scolpaig and have concluded there were no issues that warranted their involvement in this planning application.
“It has been cleared back to Western Isles Council for future handling.”