Fiona Hyslop Lobbies for Sutherland Spaceport Support from the Government

4th Feb 2021
Fiona Hyslop

SNP ministers have urged the UK government to make rocket launches from Sutherland Spaceport available by next year. This spaceport project is one of the most promising sites in the Scottish space race as it is perfectly placed, location wise. In addition to this, the spaceport is to become home for the Danish launch provider Orbex Space. Fiona Hyslop, an Economy Secretary, has already lobbied Chancellor Sunak seeking his support. She expects him to back up the £17.3 million plan for spaceport construction. 

Sutherland Spaceport for Orbex Space & Scottish Economy

On 8th December 2020, Fiona Hyslop lobbied the Chancellor to support the Sutherland Spaceport construction plan. In particular, she asked him to remove any blockages that could intervene with the construction plan. The blockages have to do with both legal and financial implications for the construction plan. Right now, Space Hub Sutherland is backed by public funds and already has planning permission. Still, some hurdles remain to be overcome. 

While the public waits for the government’s response, the lobby from Fiona Hyslop troubles developers who support rival spaceport projects in Shetland and Western Isles. The UK Space Agency, however, does not see different construction sites as competitors. UKSA supports Shetland and Sutherland alike, even though it is not yet clear which spaceport will become operational first. 

While the UK Space Agency may be equally interested in both sites, future spaceport partners are rooting for their chosen sites. For example, Orbex Space should become the sole launch provider at Space Hub Sutherland. As Fiona Hyslop claims in her letter to the Chancellor, continued industry support is essential for the success of the local economy. That includes giving local companies a chance to prove their potential. If the project gets the support it needs, the first rocket launches from the site should happen in 2022. 

The Scottish government is actively supporting the initiative as well. According to their spokesperson, developing the Scottish space sector is one of the tasks specifically identified by the government as they are working on making Scotland a leading launch site in Europe. This decision is economically viable since Scottish spaceports should become home to local aerospace companies and international startups. As a result, residents such as Orbex Space in facilities like the Sutherland Spaceport could generate around £4 billion for the local economy by 2030. 

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