North West Wales

Llanbedr airfield spaceport consultation closes

Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo Image copyright AP
Image caption Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo performed test flights at Spaceport America in New Mexico in September

A four-month consultation which could help decide the location of the UK's first spaceport ends on Monday with one site in Gwynedd being considered.

Llanbedr airfield, near Harlech, is one of eight which has been looked at.

Gwynedd Council says it would support the development, but the Snowdonia Society is opposed to the impact it could have on the wider national park.

The views of local people will be sought if the site is identified as a serious contender for the role.

By the year 2030 the global space economy is expected to be worth £400bn a year and the UK government wants to secure a slice worth £40bn annually.

But it needs a port from where it is thought satellites and space tourism flights will be launched, prompting the consultation.

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Media captionOpinion divided on spaceport plan for Llanbedr Airport

Six of the locations under consideration are in Scotland and one in England.

Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards said if realised the plans have the potential to create "significant economic development and the growth of both the local and national economy" at Llanbedr Aviation Centre and Enterprise Park.

"As a council, we are delighted that the Llanbedr airfield site has been selected as one of eight possible locations for the UK spaceport," he said.

"And we have written to the UK government to confirm that we would fully support the development of the site as the location of the UK spaceport.

Image caption Snowdonia Society director John Harold believes a spaceport "would not be appropriate for the national park"

"The Llanbedr site has a great many attributes which would make it an excellent choice, from the fact that it would be possible to use an existing airfield facility in a secure costal location where a spaceport could operate safely, to its close proximity to both Aberystwyth and Bangor universities, both of which have expertise in fields relevant to space technology."

He said the authority would continue to work with the airfield owners and the Welsh government to exploit the site's potential.

But not everyone agrees with the proposed location, including some local residents and the Snowdonia Society - a charity set up to "protect, enhance and celebrate Snowdonia, its wildlife and heritage".

Society director John Harold said: "Whilst we support and want to see appropriate development in the park, we feel that something like a spaceport would bring levels of impact on wildlife, on noise and disturbance and other issues that would not be appropriate for the national park.

"We already have a world class facility here. We already have a world famous brand. It is called Snowdonia national park and it is a real success."

The UK Department for Transport expects to the publish a response to its consultation later in the year.

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