7 April 2020
Scottish Government may call-in North Uist spaceport planning permission bid
By Reporter
Hebrides News


North Uist spaceport

The Scottish Government has indicated it may intervene over planning permission for the controversial proposed spaceport at Scolpaig in North Uist.

Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar is the lead player in the Spaceport 1 project which plans blast rockets into space.

The planning application is expected to go before the council’s planning board - made up of councillors.

If they intend to grant permission for the development then the Scottish Ministers will consider a call-in.

A government notice stresses: “This direction is given to assist in providing an overview of applications for spaceport development in the planning system.”

The Scottish Government highlighted it reserves its “right to intervene.”

Ambitions to build a spaceport in the Western Isles arose in 2014 and planning permission for the Scolpaig site was lodged in 2018 but later withdrawn.

Scaled down plans submitted the following year received hundreds of objections.

The comhairle borrowed cash and spent around £1 million to purchase Scolpaig Farm in the north west corner of North Uist. The loan will be repaid from the income from companies using the facility.

The comhairle purchased Scolpaig Farm for the project

Latest plans focus on the first stage of the project - to construct infrastructure for the launch of research rockets to gather scientific data.

This includes building a launch pad, locations for tracking radar pads and a road to the hillside base.

The spaceport would also support a wide range of related activities such as sub-orbital launches, microgravity and associated experiments, engine testing, stage testing and research and development.

From Scolpaig, rockets would have a firing take-off angle about 85° towards the northwest, going high between Iceland and the Faroe Islands without passing over any land.

Involved in the partnership with the council is QinetiQ, which operates the nearby South Uist rocket range and Commercial Space Technologies, a UK based consultancy and satellite launch broker with 35 years’ experience.

Global Network