Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have welcomed the inclusion of Stornoway Airport on a shortlist of potential sites for the UK’s first Spaceport and will work together to explore the opportunities arising from such a development.
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), who own and operate Stornwoay Airport, are not pursuing the spaceport bid, however they have said that they will provide logistical support for any potential Spaceport investors in Scotland.
Angus Campbell, Leader of the Comhairle and Chair of the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership, said: “Stornoway Airport on behalf of the Outer Hebrides is very much in the running as the location for the site of the UK’s Spaceport.
“Stornoway has a number of critical features that make it an ideal location. Amongst these are the vast expanse of the Atlantic ocean around us; we are only one hour away from a host of research and development facilities; we have the University of the Highlands and Islands on our doorstep; our northerly location gives more daylight for more of the year than any other location and we have extremely low air traffic levels.
“The Comhairle, HIE, our other partners and the wider community will work together and explore fully the employment and other opportunities that a spaceport in the Outer Hebrides would bring. We will be moving swiftly over the next weeks to explore this opportunity and have already begun setting up a company through which to pursue the Outer Hebrides Spaceport idea. I very much welcome HIAL’s enthusiasm to engage with potential operators and provide technical assistance and logistical support.”
Rachel Mackenzie, HIE area manager in the Outer Hebrides, said: “Stornoway Airport is an ideal location for commercial spaceplane operations in the UK. We have the environment, the people, and the ambition to realise the Spaceport’s full potential to deliver economic benefits for the whole country as well as boosting local regeneration in the Hebrides.
“There is excellent connectivity with major Scottish cities and onward connections to London and mainland Europe. The area has existing skilled businesses willing and able to diversify and embrace opportunities for new technology. And there is further and higher education capacity to specialise in aeronautical/space requirements. With all these qualities and more, Stornoway presents a compelling case.”
Stornoway Airport is one of five potential sites shortleeted for the UK’s first spaceport by the Civil Aviation Authority.