Judicial review sought over Sutherland spaceport decision
A petition has been lodged for judicial review of the decision by Highland Council to approve plans for the proposed spaceport development in Sutherland.
Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) intends to create Space Hub Sutherland on land owned by Melness Crofters Estate on the A’ Mhòine peninsula, south of Tongue.
An extensive environmental impact assessment was submitted alongside HIE’s planning application, which was considered on June 26 by the council’s north planning applications committee and given full approval in August.
However, conservation organisation Wildland Limited, which is owned by Anders Holch Povlsen, claims more scrutiny is required into the development’s impact on the environment.
Tim Kirkwood, chief executive of Wildland Limited, said: “It is absolutely vital that planning applications of such scale and significance for environmentally-vulnerable protected areas like the A’Mhoine Peninsula are subject to rigorous scrutiny at the planning application stage, whoever the applicant happens to be.
“We have carefully considered Highland Council’s decision to approve a spaceport at the site and believe we were fully justified in our initial concerns over the granting of an application with a virtually unprecedented number of conditions.
“Our view is that this resulted because the planning authority did not have access to sufficiently detailed or rigorous impact assessments on key aspects of the proposal to approve the application in the way it did. We, therefore, felt we had no option but to lodge an appeal for judicial review of what we believe to be a flawed decision.”
As part of arrangements to ensure government overview of spaceport planning applications, the council was required to notify the Scottish government but minister decided not to call it in for a public inquiry.
A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “HIE undertook a series of detailed environmental impact assessments that were submitted as a core part of our planning application.
“The environmental conditions that were attached to planning approval strongly reflected recommendations that we and our consultants put forward to ensure robust protection is in place.”
The £17.3 million spaceport is expected to create 200 jobs.