General HIE news

Contract awarded to design Sutherland spaceport

Architects have been appointed to design the spaceport that is being developed to launch small satellites from the Highlands.

Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is leading the £17.5m Space Hub Sutherland project, including a £2.5m grant from the UK Space Agency (UKSA).

HIE has appointed architectural firm, NORR Consultants, to lead on producing designs for the facility to be submitted for planning consent later this year. Along with sub-contractors Arup Engineers and ERZ landscape architects, the architects will work alongside the project management team.

The design contract covers architectural services, mechanical and electrical engineering, civil engineering and a landscape architect. The team will be responsible for obtaining all necessary consents to enable construction to begin in 2020.

They will also be responsible for scoping, procuring and managing various surveys on site at Melness on the Moine peninsula. There are several nature conservation measures applied to the Moine. The proposed site is next to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Scenic Area. It also sits on the area’s internationally recognised blanket bog eco system.

The flora, fauna and scenery behind the natural significance of the area will need to be taken into account as part of the spaceport’s design and construction.

Several consultations and site studies and surveys have already been carried out, however further surveys will be required to support the planning process. They include drainage, archaeological, traffic, visual impact, air quality and acoustic assessments.

HIE is working towards submitting a planning application this summer, with the aim of obtaining consent by the end of 2019. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring of 2020 and take a year to complete.

Roy Kirk, Space Hub Sutherland project director, said:

“This is a key step in the development of Space Hub Sutherland. This is a high profile, complex and innovative project that we expect to generate many social and economic benefits for different parts of the region, including around 400 new well-paid skilled jobs.

“We are delighted to have NORR and Arup Engineers onboard and look forward to working with them and the wider project management team in taking the project forward.”

Kevin Stephen, lead architect for NORR said “The Space Hub project is exciting, as well as complex and sensitive. The integration of a vertical small satellite launch facility, with associated infrastructure into this rural and naturally significant site, presents many interesting challenges for us; the sort of challenge we thrive on. We look forward to getting started.”

HIE is also working to secure a commercial operator for the space hub, with an announcement of a preferred bidder expected in the next few months.

Funding for Space Hub Sutherland has been secured from UKSA and HIE.

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