Potential satellite vertical launch centre site for Sutherland
Top of the agenda at today’s Sutherland County Committee was a discussion about a potential vertical launch centre for satellites in Sutherland.
The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is currently considering a number of potential sites including three possible locations in the Highlands and Islands – one at The Moine in Sutherland and others in Shetland and the Outer Hebrides.
Roy Kirk of HIE gave a presentation that highlighted the natural advantages and the skilled workforce which he feels makes the Sutherland site such a strong contender.
Around 150 direct jobs could be created with local staff given opportunities to develop their skills while further indirect jobs attracting new talent would also become available along with numerous supply chain opportunities.
By building on the already established reputation the North has of embracing new industries and sectors there is potential of making the North Highlands a centre for science and technology.
Roy said: “Sutherland meets the criteria for satellite launches and, as the region’s economic development agency, we are clearly interested in investigating any project that has the potential to create skilled and well-paid employment, and generate wider economic and community benefits. At the same time, it’s important that we understand all of the impacts a development such as this could have. ”
Members of the Sutherland County Committee welcomed the opportunity to find out more about the project.
Chair Cllr Linda Munro said: “From what we heard today I think the plans are exciting and offer huge, much needed opportunities for Sutherland and Caithness, not only in terms of providing skilled jobs but also the knock-on effect for education, other associated industries, tourism and the economy.
“We understand that no decision has been taken and the Sutherland site is part of a bidding process but after listening to the presentation I am hugely keen to see more details come forward but safety has to be paramount – safety for people and safety for the environment. Despite the potential for much needed jobs, it cannot come at any cost. We need to be confident that all safety and environmental impacts are forensically scrutinised and dealt with at an early stage.
“I am hugely ambitious for our communities and relish the thought that children currently in our schools today could have excellent prospects of leaving education knowing that apprenticeships for skilled jobs in the science, technology engineering and fields are open to them within their local area.
She added: “While we wait for more details to emerge as proposals for all three potential sites come forward my fellow Councillors and I have been reassured that our communities will be thoroughly consulted and the views of people listened to. I think it is vital that people get involved at this early stage so I encourage everyone to come along to the public meetings HIE will be arranging and to let us know their thoughts. As a committee we look forward to learning more details as the proposals move forward.”