RSPB Against The Sutherland Spaceport, States It Could Threaten The Local Wildlife15th Apr 2020
Appeal made to Scottish Government to ‘call in’ the application
Britain’s first vertical launch spaceport could possibly be grounded because of birds, as warned by conservationists. Vertical launches are being planned from the Sutherland Spaceport on the remote A’Mhoine peninsula of Sutherland. The project is currently going through the planning permission phase.
The Sutherland Spaceport has come up against concerns over potentially negative environmental issues. The Sutherland site is in the middle of the peat bog, which is also home to some rare fauna, has attracted the opposition from the likes of protest group Extinction Rebellion, Scottish Natural Heritage, and RSPB.
Scotland’s RSPB has objected to the scheme officially, stating that the project would endanger the breeding of different bird populations like the red-throated diver, golden plover, greenshank, and dunlin. Additionally, the organization said that there was a lack of mitigation measures to protect wildlife and robust surveys.
Why Is RSPB Against The Sutherland Spaceport?
According to the official RSPB Scotland website, the planning application of the
£17.3 million scheme that has been submitted by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to The Highland Council does not demonstrate that the development of the Sutherland Spaceport would not affect the Sutherland Peatlands Special Area of Conservation (protected for its peatland habitat) and Caithness, and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area (protected for its birds’ population).
Additionally, concerns have been drawn by the RSPB that there are still a lot of unknown impacts from the proposal that are not detailed. For instance, once the launch activities start, many spectators would arrive at the area to view the launch;
this increase in people, along with the measures taken to allow viewing the launch
from a safe distance, would be very disturbing and damaging to the wildlife of the
While RSPB did acknowledge that the Sutherland Spaceport could bring in ample
job opportunities to the local economy, they were more concerned that not a single
strategic approach was taken in identifying the best location for the proposal.
RSPB stated that the current application does not assess all the risks properly or fully to show how these impacts can be lessened.
Could the Scottish Government call in the application?
A detailed objection has been sent to Kevin Stewart, Scottish local government minister, to request him to take charge of the decision-making for the proposed spaceports, including Unst in Shetland.
As of now, the application to build the Sutherland Spaceport has about 444 objections, against 118 comments in favour. If the application gets approved, the
new spaceport could be opened up in 2022.