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News / Regulator launches consultation on environmental effects of Unst spaceport

Earlier this week, contractors building the SaxaVord space port completed the concrete launch stool base for launchpad Fredo. Fredo is one of three orbital launchpads on the site. Photo: SaxaVord Spaceport

A PUBLIC consultation is being held on the proposed SaxaVord Spaceport in Unst.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it is part of the process for the company applying for a spaceport operator licence.

Whilst no licence is yet in place, work is already underway at the Lamba Ness launch site.

On Wednesday the SaxaVord team announced the completion of a ‘concrete launch stool’ ahead of expected first rocket launch in 2023.

As part of the licence application, Shetland Space Centre Limited has submitted an assessment of environmental effects (AEE) for public consultation.

The CAA said the the purpose of this is to ensure that applicants have considered the potential environmental effects of their intended activities and, if necessary, taken – or identified – proportionate steps to avoid, mitigate or offset the risks and their potential effects.

“The CAA must consider the AEE, including responses to the consultation, when deciding whether to grant a licence,” head of UK space regulation Colin Macleod said in a letter announcing the consultation.

He added in a statement: “Reviewing the environmental impacts of a launch is crucial in protecting the local area in these types of activities, and those local to the area are the best placed to inform us of the potential impacts of such an undertaking.

“We encourage all members of the public directly affected by the proposed spaceport, be they individuals or groups, to engage with this consultation.”

Spaceport CEO Frank Strang added: “It is in our DNA at SaxaVord to take our obligations to the environment very seriously, underlined by the fact that to the best of my knowledge we are the only spaceport in Scotland that employs a full-time sustainability officer.

“Through the CAA’s consultation we will welcome constructive comments on how to improve the mitigation of our environmental impacts.”

Up to 30 vertical satellite launches per year are expected over a period of three decades from SaxaVord Spaceport, comprising both orbital and sub-orbital launches.

People can submit a response to Shetland Space Centre Limited’s Space proposal via this link, with the consultation closing on 8 December.

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