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Environment / Environment agency objects to space centre plans over peat concern

SEPA said it will withdraw its objection if the issue is resolved

THE PROPOSED space port in Unst appears to have another obstacle to overcome after Scotland’s environment agency objected to plans over peat management concerns.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), however, said it would withdraw its objection if the issue can be resolved.

The objection revolves around one of the peat management proposals offered by SaxaVord Spaceport.

SEPA said it does not support the use of peat for a bund at a two-metre height due to the “high likelihood” it would dry out, leading to erosion and carbon loss.

It relates to peat being re-used as landscaping around launch pad sites.

SEPA has asked the applicant to explore other uses for any excess peat and “provide information regarding the fate of the peat which will not be used for the bund”.

It said it is happy to work with the space centre team to explore the situation, and will encourage peat restoration proposals where possible.

“Whilst we have this concern about the peat bund, we are generally content with other aspects of peat management and thank the applicant for adhering to the majority of our advice as provided,” its planning submission said.

It has also suggested a number of conditions in areas like peat restoration, surface water management and renewable energy.

A spokesperson for SaxaVord Spaceport said the company would not comment on individual comments or objections to the planning applications.

The spaceport aims to launch satellites into orbit from next year, but it is still awaiting planning permission.

One other hurdle to overcome is Historic Environment Scotland’s objection the plan to use Lamba Ness as the launch site, due to the its past use as an RAF radar station, but talks have been held in a bid to overturn the refusal.