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Space / Carmichael says tunnels are fair price for Shetland hosting SaxaVord space centre

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has spoken up on the importance of tunnels for the isles to unlock the potential of the UK space industry that Shetland is now hosting.

During a parliamentary debate on Wednesday to discuss the UK space industry, Carmichael raised the point that there are many “specific local opportunities for Shetland”, particularly as it now hosts the SaxaVord space centre in Unst.

Along with the efficiency and hard work of those involved in the Shetland spaceport, the MP stressed the advantages and “natural opportunities for security and safety” offered by Shetland’s geographical position.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

The MP then spoke of the importance of fixed link tunnels in the isles in order to unlock the full potential of the industry, stating that support for these tunnels “should be Shetland’s price” for hosting such a strategically important industry for the UK.

This is an argument that is being made by councillors and senior officials every time they have an opportunity to speak UK Government politicians.

Carmichael said: “There are lessons for Shetland to learn from its engagement with the space industry and from how we have successfully engaged with the North Sea oil and gas industry for the past 40-odd years.

“We welcome the coming of the space industry to Shetland, but we welcome it on our own terms and we want to maximise for ourselves the opportunities that it can bring to our communities.”

He continued: “One project that the community is keen to proceed with – and which is deserving of some support from the Scottish Government and the United Kingdom Government – would be to replace our inter-island ferries with fixed-links tunnels going from mainland Shetland to Yell, and Yell to Unst. It is a case that stands well in its own right.

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“That is the sort of thing that should be Shetland’s price for playing host to the space industry. That is the sort of opportunity that we as a community should be entitled to exploit and to expect co-operation on, and support from, Government and elsewhere.”

The space industry was previously showcased during four exhibitions that took place in parliament with more than 40 space companies from across the UK.

Today, the Civil Aviation Authority announced it had granted a range control licence to SaxaVord Spaceport.

Spaceport clears final hurdle to become fully operational

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