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HIE report spells out £56m a year economic boost from Space Hub Sutherland

By Caroline McMorran

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A Highlands and Islands Enterprise boss has said the findings of a newly published report are a "huge vote of confidence" for Space Hub Sutherland.

The report analyses the likely economic impact of the spaceport and predicts it will bring massive employment and tourism benefits not just to the county but to the wider Highlands and Moray.

It is anticipated that space station will lay the foundation for a ‘Northern Space Cluster’, which could bring as many as 740 jobs to the Highlands and Islands and boost the region’s economy by £56 million a year by the end of this decade.

In business terms a cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected companies and institutions in a particular field.

A visualisation by NORR of satellites being launched into orbit from Space Hub Sutherland.
A visualisation by NORR of satellites being launched into orbit from Space Hub Sutherland.

Entitled The North Highland and Moray Space Cluster Strategy, the new report was produced by well-regarded global professional service company Jacobs.

It was commissioned by the Caithness Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership, which aims to attract a‘space business cluster to the north Highlands and Moray.

Funding came from Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise which is developing Space Hub Sutherland on land owned by Melness Crofters’ Trust at A’Mhoine.

HIE director of strategic projects David Oxley said: “Jacobs is a world leader in this kind of analysis and their findings are a huge vote of confidence in Space Hub Sutherland.

“Our central aim in developing this project has always been to generate significant benefits for the local community and the wider regional and Scottish economies.

“This is a highly credible report that we believe endorses our vision for a Northern Space Cluster, building upon a commercial spaceport in Sutherland, and the positive impacts it will generate.”

The first vertical satellite launch site to secure planning permission in the UK, Sutherland Space Hub could become Europe’s first continental orbital spaceport.

The spaceport itself will support more than 40 full-time jobs when fully operational with 12 launches per year. But Jacobs says more jobs will be created in construction and tourism, with the launches expected to attract an annual total of more than 4400 visitors, whose spending will boost local hospitality businesses.

The Jacobs economic impact model estimates that by 2030, the development could support a further 520 jobs in the rest of Scotland, including at space rocket manufacturers Orbex in Forres, and 140 in other parts of the UK.

Jacobs estimates that a Northern Space Cluster could create 740 jobs in the Highlands and Islands and boost the regional economy by £56 million per year by the end of this decade.

Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership chairman Ian Ross said: “As a commercial spaceport, Space Hub Sutherland will play a critical role in bringing income and employment to the North Highland and Moray region,”

“It will help to retain highly skilled individuals in the North Highlands and offer opportunities to young people to help stem the flow of depopulation.

“Space Hub Sutherland will unlock further development of the Moray space cluster and support UK and Scottish government objectives for growing the space sector.”

Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: “In addition to the clear economic benefits to the region, this report also demonstrates the capability, flexibility and willingness of the local supply chain to capture opportunities in an exciting new industry.

“With experience in a wide range of energy sectors, our highly-skilled local supply chain is ready and able to engage with the UK space sector as this exciting development proceeds.”

Orbex chief executive Chris Larmour said “Space Hub Sutherland is already a catalyst for new jobs and commercial opportunities in the North Highlands and Moray – and this will only intensify over the coming years.”

The full report can be downloaded at www.cnsrp.org.uk/space-cluster

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