Community / Spaceport team not planning any launches during Norwick Up Helly Aa or Unst Show

A picture from the 2019 Norwick Up Helly Aa. Photo: Desley Ritch

NO rocket launches are planned from the SaxaVord Spaceport when the Norwick Up Helly Aa or the Unst Show take place.

Meanwhile the spaceport team say they will publish information in advance for each launch including information about road closures and access restrictions.

First launches are expected from the proposed Lamba Ness site in the north of Unst next year, although the development still needs planning permission.


The launches are expected to garner significant interest from the public – initially at least, with the novelty expected to wear off over time.

But an outdoor access plan created for the spaceport’s planning application has confirmed that no launches will take place when two popular yearly events are held in the northern reaches of Unst.

The fiery Norwick Up Helly Aa takes place every February, while the Unst Show is an August event.

There is also expected to be a planning condition where no launches will take place between mid-May and the end of June to avoid disturbing breeding birds.


The spaceport team engaged with the Scottish Rights of Way (Scotways), Shetland Islands Council, Unst Community Council and the Shetland Outdoor Access Forum prior to the submission of the access plan.

The plan says the spaceport will be developed over three phases of construction, with each phase anticipated to take six months.

Once operational the site may be restricted in access depending on the activity.

When it is ‘green’ the launch site area will be open for people to access freely, ‘amber’ will be for authorised personnel only and when it is ‘red’ the launch site will be out of bounds to everyone.

“Members of the public will therefore only be allowed access to the launch site when the site status is ‘Green’, which will be the majority of the time,” the report said.

There will also be an exclusion zone when the area is ‘red’, which will be of no more than a 1.2nm radius around the launch pad.

The spaceport team also envisions placing notices at the ferry terminal in Toft so everyone arriving in Unst is aware of upcoming activity.