Councillors 'confident' spaceport in Shetland Islands will be approved

Plans for a vertical launch spaceport at Lamba Ness on Unst are being considered by Shetland Islands Council.

Shetland Islands Council ‘confident’ spaceport at Saxa Vord will be approved iStock

Council bosses have said they are confident the planned spaceport at Saxa Vord in the Shetland Islands will get planning permission in the coming weeks.

Shetland Islands Council (SIC) has been considering an application by SaxaVord UK Spaceport to build a vertical launch spaceport at Lamba Ness on Unst, one of the North Isles.

In a statement on Friday, SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison said the council is “minded to approve the application”, adding it still needs to be run past Scottish ministers before it can officially be given the green light.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Ms Sandison said: “We are in a position where we have worked through the planning application and we want to approve it, based on the information we have.”

She said having addressed all relevant responses to the plans, the council is “now in a position where we have no unresolved objections from statuary consultees”.

“That means we can approve the planning application using the delegated authority that council officers have,” Ms Sandison said.

While the council is “minded to approve” the application, it must still notify Scottish ministers, who then have 28 days to decide whether to “call in” the application, she said.

“We are ready to approve it, subject to the 28-day gap that we have to leave,” Ms Sandison added.

Once built, the space centre is expected to boost jobs and inject millions into the economy.

When asked about whether the application has been positively received, Ms Sandison replied “yes”, adding: “We have worked hard with the developer and the statuary consultees to resolve the issues that were causing concern.

“There has been a number of adjustments to the developments to take that on board.”

She added: “There’s no reason not to approve this planning application for us, but we have to wait for the 28 days before we can confirm that it is approved.”

Frank Strang, chief executive of SaxaVord UK Spaceport, said: “We are delighted that Shetland Islands Council has indicated that it is minded to approve our application to build the UK’s vertical launch spaceport at Lamba Ness in Unst.

“We look forward to receiving confirmation of approval within the next few days and will have further comment to make at that point.”

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