Scotland’s biggest landowner has lodged a petition for a judicial review against the proposed Sutherland spaceport development.
Wildland Limited, owned by Anders Holch Povlsen – who already owns more than 222,000 acres of Scotland – has lodged the petition for a judicial review of the decision by the Highland Council.
Plans for a £17.3 million spaceport in the Highlands has also won approval from the Scottish Government.
The Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) project at A’Mhoine, near Tongue in Sutherland, is expected to create 200 jobs as satellites are launched from the station.
Mr Povlsen owns the international clothing chain Bestseller and is also the biggest single shareholder in clothing giant Asos.
Tim Kirkwood, chief executive of Wildland Limited said: “It is absolutely vital that planning applications of such scale and significance for environmentally vulnerable protected areas like the A’Mhoine Peninsula are subject to rigorous scrutiny at the planning application stage, whoever the applicant happens to be.
“We have carefully considered the Highland Council’s decision to approve a space port at the site and believe we were fully justified in our initial concerns over the granting of an application with a virtually unprecedented number of conditions.
“Our view is that this resulted because the planning authority did not have access to sufficiently detailed or rigorous impact assessments on key aspects of the proposal to approve the application in the way it did.
“We therefore felt we had no option but to lodge an appeal for judicial review of what we believe to be a flawed decision.”
A spokesperson for Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “HIE undertook a series of detailed environmental impact assessments that were submitted as a core part of our planning application for Space Hub Sutherland.
“The environmental conditions that were attached to planning approval strongly reflected recommendations that we and our consultants put forward to ensure robust protection is in place. These recommendations were developed with significant input from key partners.
“It is also worth noting that we expect many satellites launched from Space Hub Sutherland to be used for Earth observation, gathering data to help measure and address the impacts of climate change across the planet.
“As this petition has now been lodged with the court, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
After being approved by Highland councillors in June, the proposal went to the Scottish Government, which decided not to call it in for a public inquiry.