As more people are likely to want to watch a rocket launch from the Sutherland spaceport, HIE – the project developer – is working on ensuring this process goes according to all safety guidelines.
The developers of the Sutherland spaceport are actively taking measures that would allow spectators to oversee their vehicle launches. If all goes well this major space hub will see up to 12 launches every year, and it is expected that a significant number of people will visit the site to witness the launches. This, however, presents a number of challenges for the space hub, particularly in ensuring the correct safety measures are in place.
New measures from Sutherland spaceport developers
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Sutherland spaceport developers, will offer parking spots and signage to visitors looking to watch the first launches from this new launch site. The site has several roads leading to it, but all of them are single-track. People looking to watch the rocket launch will cause considerable traffic congestion and inconvenience for the site’s staff and also for local residents.
Parts of the A838 road will likely offer the best view, and so, is likely to be most impacted by curious observers. HIE is planning to provide parking spots and offer public information on all future launches along the route. This should address the potential traffic problem and ensure the increased safety for anyone who wants to watch rocket launches.
The site hasn’t been without its problems. Locals have raised concerns about the potential negative impact on local roads from increased traffic and have actively voiced their concerns in response to the planning application submitted to the Highlands Council. Locals have also raised concerns about the impact of the proposed launch site on the local environment, with specific concerns raised about the ecological impact on the surrounding peatlands. Highlands and Islands Enterprise have promised to address those concerns and the changes to the road infrastructure is one of the ways in which they have attempted to reduce any negative impact on local roads infrastructure.
Environmentalists including the Extinction Rebellion group are particularly worried about high quantities of carbon dioxide (C02) being released as a result of disturbing large areas of peat and the creation of a viewing site may contribute to further disturbance of the large peatland. HIE, however, have assured the public that everything is under control. According to their spokesperson, the Sutherland spaceport plan has taken into account all necessary measures needed to respect the local environment.
Whatever the growing concerns may be, it’s looking very unlikely that HIE will make any significant changes to its plans regarding this launch site. If the project proceeds through the planning process without any major obstacles then the Sutherland spaceport is potentially going to be one of Europe’s main space hubs, likely to attract a large number of tourists.