ONE OF Scotland’s largest trade unions is lobbying for a proposed launch centre for satellites to go to Sutherland rather than Shetland.
The GMB union said some of the jobs being lost at the Dounreay nuclear site, near Scrabster, could be replaced by bringing the UK’s first vertical launch facility project to the area.
The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is currently considering a number of funding bids from potential sites, including one led by businessman Frank Strang to create a spaceport in Unst.
A four day event to showcase the proposed site in the northeast corner of the UK’s most northerly island has been organised for late May.
Strang previously told Shetland News that the Shetland Space Centre team would look to apply for a spaceport licence even if it didn’t receive government funding because of strong interest it has already received from satellite launch companies and investors.
GMB’s Liz Gordon, however, said there was a strong economic case to support Sutherland as a future home of such a facility.
“As Dounreay is decommissioned the existing levels of employment will inevitably decline so the focus should be on alternative employment opportunities that can sustain the communities of the far North,” she said.
“The Sutherland economy is a fragile one and the jobs that would be created to deliver the construction, infrastructure and sustainability of this project could give the area a significant boost.
“Our members at Dounreay have a proud tradition of working at the coal-face of pioneering industry and they are invested in the communities of Caithness and Sutherland.
“They want to see economic growth and skilled opportunities for future generations in the North of Scotland and that’s why our union is urging everyone to get behind this bid.”