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Spaceport can help community thrive 'for generations' as survey shows backing among young people


By Alan Hendry

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Dorothy Pritchard, chairperson of Melness Crofters’ Estate, warned that communities could lose their 'heart and soul' without opportunities for people to live and work in Sutherland. Picture: Duncan McLachlan
Dorothy Pritchard, chairperson of Melness Crofters’ Estate, warned that communities could lose their 'heart and soul' without opportunities for people to live and work in Sutherland. Picture: Duncan McLachlan

North Sutherland's proposed spaceport can help ensure the surrounding area thrives "for generations to come", according to one of the leading supporters of the project.

Dorothy Pritchard, chairperson of Melness Crofters’ Estate, warned that communities risk losing their "heart and soul" unless more opportunities are created for people to live and work locally.

She was speaking after a new survey indicated backing among young Scots for the proposed £17.3 million satellite launch site on A’ Mhoine peninsula.

The YouGov poll of 1015 Scots revealed that 85 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds who expressed an opinion favoured the development of the world’s first carbon-neutral space hub at the location. Overall, after reading a description of the proposed development, 75 per cent of Scottish adults said they supported the development of Space Hub Sutherland.

Mrs Pritchard said: “It’s great to hear that people throughout the country support the development of the space hub and, in particular, the younger generation can see the long-term benefits that having a space hub could bring. Our vision from day one has been to create opportunities for the local community while minimising disruption to our landscape here in Sutherland.

"If we don’t do something to create more opportunities for people to live and work here in Sutherland then we will lose the heart and soul of our communities. The job creation that comes as a direct result of the space hub and additional knock-on opportunities in the future will ensure that our community thrives for generations to come.

"Knowing that others in Scotland see the potential that the space hub has to revitalise our rural community is very encouraging.”

Survey results include:

  • Ninety-four per cent of Scottish adults aged 18-24 and 89 per cent of Scottish adults overall consider job creation as an important factor to them in in relation to the development of a spaceport in Sutherland
  • Eighty-eight per cent of Scottish adults consider protecting the peatlands in the local area as important to them in relation to the spaceport development
  • Ninety-one per cent of Highlanders said Space Hub Sutherland being environmentally friendly was important to them
  • Seventy-five per cent of Scottish adults support the development of Space Hub Sutherland after reading a description of the proposed development
  • Seventy-two per cent of Scottish adults support the creation of a space industry in Scotland

Planning permission for Space Hub Sutherland, granted in 2020, could see an inaugural space flight launching from Melness Crofters’ Estate land by 2022.

The survey results were announced on the final day of a judicial review against the planning approval, triggered by neighbouring landowner Anders Holch Povlsen through his company Wildland Ltd. Wildland has concerns about the impact of the development on protected areas.

Melness Crofters’ Estate says the space hub plans "have been carefully considered at each stage to ensure the crofting community, its stunning landscape and native wildlife are all protected".

Highlands and Islands Enterprise plans to establish the space hub as a core part of the launch capability required to meet the UK’s ambitions to be a competitive player in the growing international space market.


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