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Boris Johnson wants to send north MP, Jamie Stone, into space

By Gordon Calder

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PRIME Minister, Boris Johnson, has proposed sending north MP, Jamie Stone, into space. The exchange between the pair took place during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons following this week's ruling by the Scottish Land Court that the planned £17.5 million spaceport hub at the Melness Crofters' Estate (MCE) on the remote A’Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland could proceed.

It follows news that neighbouring landowner Anders Holch Povlsen had decided not to appeal a previous decision at the Court of Session which backed Highland Council’s granting of planning permission for the vertical launch site.

The land court ruled in favour of a change of land use to allow the spaceport to be built on the estate while remaining working croft land.

Boris Johnson says Jamie Stone should be sent into space. Picture: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor
Boris Johnson says Jamie Stone should be sent into space. Picture: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

After the ruling, the Caithness, Sutherland and easter Ross MP invited Mr Johnson to visit the far north to witness the first satellite launch.

The Prime Minister said he looked forward to taking up the invitation and added that Mr Stone would be "a suitable cargo to send on a space mission."

The Liberal Democrat MP replied:"I am delighted that the Prime Minister shares my enthusiasm for the Sutherland spaceport. As for sending me into the stratosphere on the first available rocket, I think I’ll opt to stay on solid ground for now."

After the land court ruling, Mr Stone, said: "Just like the rockets that will soon be launched from Sutherland, I am absolutely over the moon!

"The space hub has the power not only to provide high-quality employment in Sutherland, but to bridge political differences. I hope that the Prime Minister will visit us to view the first launch and join me in celebrating the fact that Sutherland is leading the way."

The result is historic news for Melness Crofters’ Estate, a voluntary committee of local crofters who own the land and support the planned development.

With a declining population and the decommissioning of nearby former nuclear power site Dounreay, MCE sees Space Hub Sutherland as an opportunity to secure the community’s long-term future.

MCE chairwoman Dorothy Pritchard said: "This is fantastic news for the long-term future of our community, and we welcome this decision from the Land Court to grant the change in land use.

"It’s all systems go now for building the space hub, and we look forward to working with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and aerospace firm Orbex in the coming weeks and months ahead."

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