Public consultation event for vertical launch site

Initial plans for a vertical launch site in Unst for small rockets, which will open up a brand-new sector of the local and national economy, is to be the subject of a public consultation event next month.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the pre-planning application public exhibition for Shetland Space Centre’s draft proposals to bring spaceflight to the isles will take place online at www.consultation.shetlandspacecentre.com on Tuesday 12th, Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th May, between 4pm and 8pm inclusive each day.

This is a week later than originally planned, following the Scottish Government’s introduction last week of temporary regulations which allow such events to be held virtually while public gatherings are banned.

In what is deemed by planning legislation to be a “major” application, SSC is seeking permission to build a vertical launch spaceport, including a launch pad complex, mobile tracking stations and assembly/integration hangar buildings with associated security fencing, access and servicing at Lamba Ness.

It also intends to create a launch and range control centre at the Saxa Vord Resort complex and construct a new section of access road through Northdale, which is situated just north of the former RAF base. Both will be the subject of two smaller separate “local” planning applications.

The online consultation event will be attended by the project’s lead planning consultant and a representative of Shetland Space Centre who will be available to answer questions and provide any additional information or clarification as required.

For those interested parties unable to attend or who do not have access to the online consultation event, alternative means are being made available for contacting Shetland Space Centre via post, telephone and email to obtain further information and ask questions.

A leaflet is being delivered to all domestic properties in Unst with this contact information and details of the draft proposals. This is not required by the Scottish Government’s temporary regulations, but SSC considered it was important to ensure that everyone possible had an opportunity to comment on the draft proposals.

SSC project director Scott Hammond said: “We would much prefer to be holding the exhibition where people could come along in person. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are unable to do so.

“We would like to emphasise that this is a pre-application public engagement event, which outlines our initial draft proposals in very general terms at this stage.

“A further opportunity to make comments on the proposals will be available, prior to submitting our full planning application to Shetland Islands Council later in the year, once the detail has evolved in tandem with the Environmental Impact Assessment that we have commissioned.”