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Blast off! Billionaire Anders Polvsen confirms he will not appeal Sutherland space port decision

Billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen has confirmed his company will not appeal the decision to allow Space Hub Sutherland to proceed
Billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen has confirmed his company will not appeal the decision to allow Space Hub Sutherland to proceed

Britain’s first vertical launch spaceport has been cleared for take-off after billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen finally conceded defeat.

Mr Povlsen, Scotland’s richest man, mounted a legal challenge against the plans for Space Hub Sutherland, on the A’Mhoine penisula amid concerns about its impact on protected areas.

But a court ruled against him last month, and upheld Highland Council’s decision to approve the project.

Now his company Wildland Ltd has announced it will not appeal the decision, but said it remains “deeply disappointed” at the decision.

Chief executive Tim Kirkwood said: “Although we were deeply disappointed at the outcome of the judicial review for the A’Mhoine spaceport and felt that a justifiable case was presented to the court, we have decided that proceeding to appeal isn’t the way forward.

“There remain deep reservations that additional, space-related development consents will be sought in connection with Space Hub Sutherland.

“We are mindful that extensive commitments have been made that the spaceport will be an exemplar for environmental sustainability. While we are still concerned that those objectives will be very difficult to meet in practice, the best course of action is that we work constructively with all stakeholders to make sure commitments made in connection with the development as consented, are kept or even exceeded.

“It remains absolutely essential that any wider benefits from the project truly don’t come at the expense of the natural environment and the vulnerable biodiversity it supports.”

Anders Holch Povlsen – who has invested £1.43m into a space centre on Shetland – will not appeal the court’s decision for Space Hub Sutherland.

Appeal: Claims council failed to consider environmental impact dismissed

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) wants to build a facility for launching small satellites on the A’Mhoine peninsula, an area of peatland and crofts near Tongue.

The agency say the development would create 61 local jobs and 250 across the region – with 12 rocket launches each year, and the first blasting off in the “early 2020s”.

A total of 457 objections and 118 representations were lodged with the council before members backed it last June.

During the appeal hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Mr Povlsen’s lawyers argued that Highland Council’s planning decision failed to take into account the risks to the local environment and wildlife populations.

They argued that documents showed the authority did not appear to have properly considered the impact that people visiting the site could have on the area.

But judge Lord Doherty rejected the suggestion the local authority had “erred in law”.

“I am not persuaded that the respondent did not apply the correct test,” he said.

“In my opinion there is nothing in the appropriate assessment which suggests the existence of any such error, and there is nothing in the report of handling which causes me to conclude that the report led the respondent into any such error.”

Mr Povlsen is Scotland’s biggest landowner, with more than 221,000 acres across 12 estates, including Strathmore, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope in Sutherland.

Earlier this year it was announced another of his companies, Wild Ventures, had invested £1.43m in a proposed space centre on Unst, Shetland.

VIDEO: Take a look at how a proposed spaceport in the Highlands could look


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