Sutherland Spaceport Win Legal Challenge but Significant Hurdles Ahead

30th Aug 2021
Sutherland Spaceport Win Legal Challenge but Significant Hurdles Ahead

The project to build a spaceport at Sutherland in Scotland has had more positive news as the legal challenge by Danish billionaire Anders Povlsen has been rejected by the courts. This still leaves another legal hurdle in the way of progress as the Scottish Land Courts still need to approve the change of use for the land from crofting.

Still not over: 400+ Sutherland spaceport objections

However, this will not pave a simple path for the consortium managing the project as the initial planning application attracted over 400 objections, mostly citing environmental concerns as their reason for objecting. More specifically, the intention to disturb and remove tonnes of peat in order to build the Sutherland Spaceport brought the most criticism.

The peat fields upon which the Sutherland Spaceport will be built are one of the largest natural carbon capture resources in the world – so, regardless of approval being given, the environmental objectors are unlikely to simply abandon their campaign to prevent the environmentally damaging procedure from going ahead.

So, the consortium, which includes a Germany & Denmark based company, Orbex, is likely to face further challenges on its journey to launch from the A’Mhoine peninsula in addition to the further challenge from the likes of RSPB (which wasn’t satisfied with the group’s bird study and measures suggested to avoid disturbing rare breeding birds).

12 launches per year or less

As the planning application only allowed for 12 launches per year, there isn’t much room for delays or postponement of launch, but the arrival of breeding birds may do just that and reduce their number of annual launches even further.

None of this bodes well for the Danish and German consortium financially, as not only are they storming ahead with plans, despite significant objections, the likely number of viable launches per year could come to as few as eight or nine.

But perhaps more importantly, their willingness to ignore significant environmental concerns will not go down well with the Scottish Green Party who now has two ministers in the Scottish Government. And the sight of large trucks transporting tonnes of peat away from the protected area will likely draw the attention of the Extinction Rebellion who played a part in the original objections. That is, of course, if they are even able to get a truck to the site.

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