Under consideration PE2054: Establish an independent review into the proposed Spaceport 1 development at Scolpaig Farm in North Uist
Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to establish an independent review into the proposed Spaceport development on Scolpaig Farm focused on examining:
whether there is any conflict of interest for Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) as the authority who approved the plans and are taking the project forward;
the process for purchasing the land on Scolpaig;
potential errors and omissions in the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposal; and
the economic case for pursuing this project.
Previous action taken
I have written to the Scottish Government requesting the application be called in for conflict of interest, lack of transparency, and unclear business case. This request was declined.
I asked Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for the business plan, and noted an error in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) concerning CO2 emissions. The Planning Department acknowledged the EIA error but deemed it insignificant. I have not received the business plan.
The proposed Scolpaig Spaceport is hugely controversial and has attracted little public support, with hundreds of written objections submitted to the consultation.
Although public objections outweighed support by roughly 45:1, the Western Isles Council is continuing to pursue the project, claiming it will create jobs and that the economic benefits outweigh the environmental harm. This is far from clear as the project is surrounded by secrecy, and the economic case is simply unknown.
Spaceport 1 partner QinetiQ have stated “it is extremely difficult to predict at this juncture the demand for the Spaceport over the next 10 years.” CAA website.
It is my view that the planning process was flawed, with initially no EIA, then an EIA with significant errors. There is a perception that Spaceport 1 is being fast-tracked in a way that effectively limits public scrutiny. An independent review is urgently needed.