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Plans for Shetland Space Centre submitted to council

An artist's impression of the proposed space centre on Shetland.
An artist's impression of the proposed space centre on Shetland.

A company that hopes to construct a space centre in the far north of the Shetland Isles has lodged its plans with the local authority.

The Shetland Space Centre, which is proposed to be built at Lamba Ness on the island of Unst, has been in the pipeline for three years after the location was first earmarked in January 2018.

The plans consist of a complex consisting of three launch pads, a satellite tracking station, hangars for assembling equipment, and supporting infrastructure.

According to the application, which was validated by Shetland Council on Thursday, the centre will be used “to launch small satellites into either polar or sunsynchronous, low-earth orbits”.

Lamba Ness on Unst, where the proposed space centre would be situated.

Applicants Shetland Space Centre – the company uses the same name as their proposed development – say the facility would bring 140 jobs to Unst and inject at least £4.9 million to the island’s economy.

A further 70 jobs would be created for the rest of the Shetland Islands too, according to the company.

The application, submitted by town planning consultants Farningham Planning Ltd on behalf of Shetland Space Centre, also include a proposal to build a wildlife hide on the site for bird and orca watching.

The centre itself would develop the former RAF site at Skaw, a Scheduled Monument.

According to the company, a programme of measures would “refurbish and enhance” the site to encourage more visitors – “melding the old aerospace with the new”.

Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, Scotland’s largest landowner, has invested £1.43 million in the Shetland project.

Scott Hammond, Shetland Space Centre project director, said: “The economic decline of Unst since the closures of Baltasound Airport and RAF Saxa Vord has been well documented.

“We believe our proposals will help regenerate the island by providing skilled jobs and helping with repopulation that can only benefit the social fabric, including the school, health centre and small businesses.

“The space industry attracts young people and the island needs a healthy population of young families to maintain economic viability.”

The Shetland Space Centre project was given a boost in November last year, when a company run by Scotland’s largest landowner, Anders Holch Povlsen, provided an investment of £1.43 million.

A separate proposed space port at A’Mhoine near Tongue in Sutherland has already been granted planning permission by the Highland Council.

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