Highlands & Islands

Satellites could be sent into space from near Tongue

Micro satellite Image copyright ESA/NASA
Image caption The launches proposed would be for the delivery of small satellites

An idea to send small commercial satellites into space from Sutherland has been described as an exciting idea by a local councillor.

Linda Munro and other members of Highland Council's Sutherland County Committee were given an outline of the proposal at a meeting on Tuesday.

The UK Space Agency is considering a number of potential sites as a vertical launch centre for satellites.

They include The Moine, a crofting estate near Tongue in Sutherland.

Other sites being considered are in Shetland and the Western Isles.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is helping to promote the project.

Roy Kirk, of HIE, told councillors a satellite launch site would take "several years to come to fruition", but could create about 150 jobs if it goes ahead.

'Forensically scrutinised'

After the meeting, Ms Munro said: "From what we heard today I think the plans are exciting and offer huge, much needed opportunities for Sutherland and Caithness, not only in terms of providing skilled jobs but also the knock-on effect for education, other associated industries, tourism and the economy.

"We understand that no decision has been taken and the Sutherland site is part of a bidding process but after listening to the presentation I am hugely keen to see more details come forward but safety has to be paramount - safety for people and safety for the environment."

She added: "Despite the potential for much-needed jobs, it cannot come at any cost.

"We need to be confident that all safety and environmental impacts are forensically scrutinised and dealt with at an early stage."

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