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      Uist and Benbecula News

The closing date for comments on proposed Spaceport 1 changes to airspace over North Uist is tomorrow (Fri, May 24), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has reminded the public.

If approved, the spaceport consortium’s formal move will ban civilian flights when rocket launches are scheduled.

The proposed airspace changes during launch activity will deem the skies above North Uist as a Danger Zone. QinetiQ is managing the application as ‘change sponsor’ on behalf of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

A Comhairle spokesperson explained: “As a rocket launch poses a risk to aviation, it is necessary to separate launch from all other aviation activity through the establishment of a Special Use Airspace in the form of a Danger Area. 

“The new Danger Area will be activated around the time of launch with other airspace users notified to ensure that they remain clear of the area for their own safety and the safety of others. The airspace change process is the mechanism through which Danger Areas can be established.”

Feedback from the public is viewed as an essential part of the airspace change process, as it helps to develop the final airspace design and associated procedures. The consultation process will enable QinetiQ to gain a better understanding of stakeholders’ operations and how they might be impacted by the proposed airspace change. These impacts will then be considered, and appropriate mitigations will be developed to minimise adverse impacts.

Feedback on the proposed airspace changes can be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority via the Citizen Space website’s questionnaire.

The Airspace Change Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., can provide hard copies of the consultation documents and the feedback questionnaire. Copies can also be collected from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Balivanich Council Offices, Isle of Benbecula, HS7 5LA.

Completed questionnaires may be returned by email or post to the Spaceport 1 Airspace Change Manager at the Comhairle Offices in Balivanich.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar granted the spaceport planning permission last year in the face of strong local opposition. Moves by the campaign group Friends of Scolpaig were unsuccessful in their bid to have the Scottish Government call in the planning decision for review.

A consortium led by the Comhairle, which is also the landowner and the planning authority, is developing the spaceport near Scolpaig, Balemartin.

The development involves the construction of a sub-orbital vertical launch spaceport that includes an access road, fencing, a launch pad with a demountable launch tower, and water and liquid storage tanks with associated services and infrastructure.