Highlands & Islands

Stornoway ideal location for UK spaceport, says council

Bristol Spaceplanes Image copyright Bristol Spaceplanes
Image caption Commercial space planes could fly from the spaceport

The leader of the council in the Western Isles has said Stornoway has "critical features" that make it the "ideal location" for a UK spaceport.

Stornoway Airport is on a UK government shortlist of potential sites that could host commercial space plane flights and satellite launches.

Angus Campbell said Lewis's geography and access to research and development facilities were suited to a spaceport.

UK ministers are keen to see the spaceport established by 2018.

Mr Campbell said: "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 and our northerly location gives more daylight for more of the year than any other location and we have extremely low air traffic levels."

Image copyright Reaction Engines
Image caption The UK could have a spaceport by 2018

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is among organisations working with Comhairle nan Siar (Western Isles Council) in exploring the opportunity for Stornoway to host a spaceport.

Rachel Mackenzie, HIE area manager, 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."

Also on the shortlist are Campbeltown and Prestwick in Scotland; Newquay in England and Llanbedr in Wales. RAF Leuchars was confirmed as a potential temporary facility.

Ministers are keen to see the spaceport established by 2018.

The emphasis will be on the expected emergence of a new breed of low-cost rocket planes that can launch fare-paying passengers to sub-orbital altitudes and also satellites into orbit.

Most of potential vehicles are still quite some time away from flying.

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