Business / Spaceport in talks over green freeport bid

The SaxaVord Spaceport vertical launch site taking shape at Lamba Ness in Unst. Photo: SaxaVord Spaceport

SAXAVORD Spaceport is in talks about becoming part of bid for a Scottish green freeport.

The discussion centres around the Unst spaceport becoming a ‘sub zone’ of the North East Scotland Green Freeport, should it be successful in its bid.

Earlier this year the UK and Scottish governments reached a “landmark deal” for establishing two ‘green freeports’ in Scotland.

A green freeport would be a specific area which offers tax reliefs and other incentives to encourage growth in industry, and it would contribute towards a just transition to net zero.

There is a requirement that local communities will benefit from any freeport.

Five bids were submitted, including from Orkney. While Shetland had expressed an early interest, Lerwick Port Authority ultimately did not submit a bid.

But it has emerged that SaxaVord Spaceport could feature in a North East Scotland Green Freeport (NESFG).

Behind it is a consortium consisting of Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Port of Aberdeen, Peterhead Port Authority and Aberdeen International Airport.


It is also supported by a wide range of regional organisation including the Energy Transition Zone, Net Zero Technology Centre and two universities.

The ports at Aberdeen and Peterhead, along with Aberdeen Airport, will be key parts of a complex international supply chain that will serve the spaceport and its fast-growing global client base.

SaxaVord Spaceport CEO Frank Strang said: “As we prepare for launch, it makes absolute sense to align ourselves with the NESFG bid as the benefits for both Shetland and the North East are clear, and, dare I say it, out of this world.

“Our business will be of huge strategic and commercial significance to the UK and Scotland for decades to come, and any associated freeport status would be of considerable importance to our own plans and enhance the ability of the bid partners in the North East to support us.

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“The clear ambition of NESGF to reposition the region as the Net Zero Capital of Europe aligns seamlessly with our aspiration to become a green energy exemplar.

“This is just one of the reasons we will be opening an office in Aberdeen shortly.

“As a further example of our commitment, our partners at Pure Energy in Unst have been at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution for the past 15 years.”

Peterhead Port Authority chief executive Simon Brebner said: “In addition to our plans for carbon capture and hydrogen production, as well as offshore wind, our desire to form a strong association with SaxaVord Spaceport means we will boldly be going where no freeport has gone before.

“The two ports and airport are clearly geographically central to the spaceport supply chain, and we believe that if our bid is successful we will be able to add significantly to our value proposition.


“There is a clear case to be made for SaxaVord Spaceport becoming a subzone of NESGF.”

Jon Matthews, group head of capital and planning at Aberdeen International Airport, said: “The North East Scotland Green Freeport bid is a real opportunity to establish our region as the Net Zero Capital of Europe.

“It will deliver a sustainable economic future for the region with 32,000 fair-work long-term jobs.”

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