Countdown to lift-off for Orbex as home Spaceport clears legal hurdles
The countdown has begun for Orbex to commence launches from what will become its home Spaceport in Sutherland, following the conclusion of two landmark legal cases in recent months.
In August, legal action taken against Highland Council’s decision to grant the Spaceport planning permission was rejected following a Judicial Review. The judge ruled against the complainant on every count, noting that the correct tests were properly applied during the planning permission process.
The following month the Scottish Land Court gave the green light for the change-of-use of the Sutherland site, removing the remaining legal barrier for the Spaceport to be built. The Court ruled that it was in the public interest for the development to go ahead, citing its ability to create “meaningful and desirable employment opportunities” in the local area.
The carbon-neutral Spaceport has received the enthusiastic backing of the Melness Crofters Estate, a voluntary group of directors that manage the estate and ensure the good husbandry of the land on which the Spaceport will be built. It is also supported by Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), the public agency that represents the region.
According to a recent report commissioned by Caithness Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the Caithness & North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership, it is estimated that the Northern Space Cluster including the Spaceport could create 740 jobs in the Highlands and Islands area and boost the regional economy by £56 million per year by the end of this decade.
"These are landmark legal decisions in favour of the spaceport project. Space Hub Sutherland is still the only UK spaceport with planning permission, and with the Judicial Review ruling and the positive Land Court decision, it's all systems go and we can look ahead to the first UK Pathfinder launch from Space Hub Sutherland." said Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex.
You can read the official judgements here:
Outer House Court of Session – Opinion of Lord Doherty for Judicial Review of a decision of The Highland Council dated 5 August 2020 granting planning permission for the construction of a vertical launch space port etc near Dunbuie, Talmine, Tongue.
Orbex is a UK-based spaceflight company with headquarters, production and testing facilities in Scotland, and design, production and testing facilities in Denmark. Orbex staff members have professional backgrounds with NASA, ESA and international commercial spaceflight organisations. The company is now funded by two of the UK’s largest and most active venture capital funds, BGF and Octopus Ventures, who join two of Europe's largest venture capital funds, Heartcore Capital and the High-Tech Gründerfonds, as well as strategic investor Elecnor, parent company of Deimos, the UK Space Agency (UKSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme.
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