By September 3, 2019 Read More →

Report casts doubt on Sutherland Space Hub construction due to rising costs

A paragraph in a report from Audit Scotland, looking at various projects being undertaken by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has raised doubts over whether there is sufficient funding available to develop the Sutherland Space Hub.

HIE approved £17.3m to support the project for a vertical launch facility on the A’Mhoine peninsula in the north of Scotland after proposals for the location were approved by the UK Space Agency last July. HIE has committed £9.8m of its own funds to the project, while £2.5m will come from the UK Space Agency. Some £5m is being sought from the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA). But the NDA is still considering whether it can support the development.

With indications that the costs of the project are increasing highlighted in the Audit Scotland report, and the money from the NDA still in question, it is increasingly unclear how the project will be funded. The report added: “HIE recognises this project is high risk and is in active discussions with key stakeholders including the Scottish Government and the UK Space Agency.”

In anticipation of the facility’s construction, the UK Space Agency has already awarded grants to two companies that plan to launch satellites from Sutherland: Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Orbex. The latter has begun establishing a manufacturing facility in the area. HIE expects up to ten launches a year from the Hub.

In the mean time, the public has been invited by HIE to share views on the launch site proposals at a number of meetings over the next two months. The events have been organised at the Melness Community Centre on 2 October and 25 November. Members of the public can question the design team and developers, and comment on the plans before they are finalised.

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