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Welcome to the fourth newsletter from Space Hub Sutherland. Thank you for signing up to receive our updates. Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone who may have an interest in the project. If you wish to receive paper copies to display or hand out, please email
On Wednesday 31 July, Melness Crofters Estate and HIE signed a leasing option which secures the option for HIE to lease the land once planning consent for the project has been granted.
We submitted a ‘Proposal of Application Notice’ to The Highland Council on 4 September.  This starts the process that will lead to a formal application for planning consent being submitted at the end of December.  You can read our news release here.
During October and November, we’ll be sharing information on our developing plans at public consultation events in Melness, Tongue, Durness, Skerray and Thurso.

Environmental updates
Design work and scoping for environmental impact studies continues to be developed. This will form part of the planning application being prepared to obtain consent in time for construction to start in 2020.

Measuring noise
Several specialist microphones will be installed at various locations within the area of the proposed site of the space hub.  These will collect background noises to allow assessments.  We’d like to thank everyone who gave us permission to install equipment in their grounds.

Site investigations
Site investigations are due to get under way next month, starting at the north end of the site and working back towards the A838.  A small compound will be set up just off the A838 where there is an existing stone track. 
The investigation works will be a mixture of trial pits and boreholes carried out using suitable vehicles to gain access across the sensitive peatland. 
The objectives of these investigations are to:
  • Confirm the geological formations (strata) and underlying ground conditions;
  • Confirm the profile, nature and level of bedrock;
  • Determine the properties of the soil and rock;
  • Determine the peat characteristics across the site to allow detailed design of the site infrastructure and to ensure the general principles of waste prevention and minimisation are met;
  • Confirm the position of the groundwater table and groundwater flow properties;
  • Confirm the suitability of a private water abstraction well;
  • Confirm the ground gas regime;
  • Confirm the geo-chemical properties of the soil, rock and groundwater, and
  • Confirm the presence and extent of any contamination within the site.
The proposed scope for all areas investigation of the peat, soil and rock is required to enable the design of the foundations and infrastructure.
A preliminary mapping exercise of existing rock exposure present across the proposed development site will be carried out before the works begin.  This will assist in developing an understanding of the lithological, mineralogical and structural geological characteristics of the exposed psammitic rock.
Our contractor will minimise the number of vehicle movements across the site and adopt special measures when crossing bodies of water or areas of sensitive ecology. The sampling of ground water and ground gas will require the temporary installation of standpipes within the ground.  These may be left in the ground for a minimum period of 2-3 months to allow for the monitoring of ground water and gas levels over a sufficient period.

Safety aspects of the site, launch and range services continue to be progressed.  Consideration of all safety and security aspects will continue to evolve and be factored into the design of the spaceport.

Airspace change
During a launch, the airspace which the launch vehicle flies through will need to be clear of all other aircraft.   Discussions have commenced with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  The change to the way the airspace is controlled will require the space hub to apply to the CAA for a change (called CAP1616), and discussions are now underway. 
As part of the application, focus groups have been arranged with aviation and non-aviation stakeholders to inform the set of parameters of the air space change.  Full consultation will take place later in the application process.  This consultation is a separate process to the planning application process.


UK Space Agency (UKSA)
The UK Space Agency continues to update its website.  You can view the latest articles by the UKSA at


We continue to develop the user requirements to allow safe launch from the Space Hub Sutherland with our industry partners Orbex and Lockheed Martin.  The launch service providers’ requirements are key to identifying a fit for purpose commercial space hub.


Community events
Community events will take place through-out the pre-planning phase of the project.  The consultation events will take in Melness Community Centre, from 1530 to 2000 hrs on: 
  • Wednesday 2 October 2019
  • Monday 25 November 2019
The event on 2 October will provide an outline of the proposed design and an update on the ongoing work to develop all the necessary information required for a full planning application submission.
Further events will take place on: 
  • Monday 4 November:                   Boys Brigade Hall, Thurso
  • Tuesday 5 November:                  Skerray Village Hall
  • Wednesday 6 November:             Kyle Centre, Tongue
  • Thursday 7 November:                 Durness Village Hall
Community Liaison Group
An exploratory meeting with local organisation representatives was held on 8 September to discuss the potential of setting up a Community Liaison Group. This will progress over the coming months with a view to holding an inaugural meeting in January 2020.

Got questions? Check out our website
The website continues to be populated with information. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been updated and can be viewed at


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