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Business / Virtual public consultation event for Unst launch site

Lamba Ness in Unst where Shetland Space Centre proposes to build a commercial satellite launch base. Photo: Shetland Space CentreLamba Ness in Unst where Shetland Space Centre proposes to build a commercial satellite launch base. Photo: Shetland Space Centre

INITIAL plans for a rocket launch site in Unst are to be the subject of an online consultation next month.

The proposals for the scheme that could “open up a brand-new sector of the local and national economy” will be available to be viewed at www.consultation.shetlandspacecentre.com on Tuesday 12, Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 May, between 4pm and 8pm inclusive each day.

The virtual airing of Shetland Space Centre’s (SSC) draft proposals to bring spaceflight to the isles is due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is a week later than originally planned, following the Scottish Government’s introduction last week of temporary regulations which allow such events to be held virtually while public gatherings are banned.

SSC project director Scott Hammond said: “We would much prefer to be holding the exhibition where people could come along in person. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are unable to do so.

“We would like to emphasise that this is a pre-application public engagement event, which outlines our initial draft proposals in very general terms at this stage.

Scott Hammond of Shetland Space Centre.

“A further opportunity to make comments on the proposals will be available, prior to submitting our full planning application to Shetland Islands Council later in the year, once the detail has evolved in tandem with the Environmental Impact Assessment that we have commissioned.”

SSC is seeking permission to build a vertical launch spaceport, including a launch pad complex, mobile tracking stations and assembly/integration hangar buildings with associated security fencing, access and servicing at Lamba Ness.

It is deemed by planning legislation to be a “major” application.

It also intends to create a launch and range control centre at the Saxa Vord Resort complex and construct a new section of access road through Northdale, which is situated just north of the former RAF base. Both will be the subject of two smaller separate “local” planning applications.

The online consultation event will be attended by the project’s lead planning consultant and a representative of Shetland Space Centre who will be available to answer questions and provide any additional information or clarification as required.

Interested parties unable to attend the online event can contact Shetland Space Centre via post, telephone and email for further information or to ask questions.

A leaflet is being delivered to all domestic properties in Unst with this contact information and details of the draft proposals.

This is not required by the Scottish Government’s temporary regulations, but SSC considered it was important to ensure that everyone possible had an opportunity to comment on the draft proposals.