QinetiQ Ltd Submits Uist Spaceport Application to Civil Aviation Authority12th Apr 2021
The Uist spaceport project at Scolpaig has the potential to become another vertical launch site if the application is approved. An application for the permanent change in airspace movements has already been submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) by project developer QinetiQ Ltd. However, introducing such permanent changes is a lengthy process — not to mention that this Scottish spaceport project faces serious opposition.
Uist Spaceport Application: Any Chance of Approval?
The Scottish Spaceport project is led by a consortium of developers that include HIE, QinetiQ Ltd., and a series of private investors. The recent application for air traffic modifications has been submitted by QinetiQ Ltd that operates in the nearby area on behalf of MOD.
The application calls for airspace change to ensure maximum user safety and area protection. The proposed Uist spaceport launch site, if approved, will connect the site with Danger Areas currently managed by the company. QinetiQ Ltd intends to use its surveillance and communication systems to solve this challenge, ensuring maximum air safety.
The so-called Statement of Need submitted to CAA by QinetiQ Ltd adds that the Scottish spaceport project has already received applications from interested launch operators. Both UK and international companies are ready to launch sounding rockets from Uist spaceport – as soon as this year. At the same time, QinetiQ Ltd understands that air traffic modifications cannot be so quickly approved, not to mention implemented.
On top of that, this Scottish spaceport does not seem to be as popular with the public as other rocket launch facilities planned in Scotland. The construction application was submitted to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in 2019. The event attracted over 600 responses, mainly negative ones.
To date, the construction approval is still pending. Should the local council be minded to grant it, they will have to run this decision by the Scottish Ministers first. While the local council is not obliged to file any legal application, the government will always have a chance to intervene in the planning and construction process.
Like most other spaceport projects, this facility faces certain opposition. In the case of Uist spaceport, the most determined opponent is Friends of Scolpaig (FoS) organization. FoS is fighting for the permanent withdrawal of the application project due to a number of issues, from safety and environmental concerns to economic ones.
In the meantime, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar officials state that they are working on further environmental impact assessment for Uist spaceport. So, despite opposition, this Scottish spaceport may one day see the light of day.