Scottish Billionaire Ends Legal Challenge to Space Hub Sutherland

Sutherland launch complex. (Credit: HIE)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Space Hub Sutherland in Scotland can move forward without a legal challenge now that billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen has decided to abandon his fight against the launch complex planned for A’Mhoine peninsula. The richest man in Scotland had challenged the plans over concerns about its environmental impact, but lost in court last month.

The Press and Journal reports:

Now his company Wildland Ltd has announced it will not appeal the decision, but said it remains “deeply disappointed” at the decision.

Chief executive Tim Kirkwood said: “Although we were deeply disappointed at the outcome of the judicial review for the A’Mhoine spaceport and felt that a justifiable case was presented to the court, we have decided that proceeding to appeal isn’t the way forward.

“There remain deep reservations that additional, space-related development consents will be sought in connection with Space Hub Sutherland.

“We are mindful that extensive commitments have been made that the spaceport will be an exemplar for environmental sustainability. While we are still concerned that those objectives will be very difficult to meet in practice, the best course of action is that we work constructively with all stakeholders to make sure commitments made in connection with the development as consented, are kept or even exceeded.

Lawyers for Povlsen argued before the Court of Session in Edinburgh that the Highland Council did not properly evaluate the environmental impact to the area when it approved the development last year. Judge Lord Doherty rejected the argument.

The decision clears the way for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to proceed with the project. Officials estimate Space Hub Sutherland will host 12 small-satellite launches annually while supporting 250 jobs across the region.

Prime launch vehicle (Credit: Orbex)

The spaceport will host launches by Orbex, a startup company located in Forres, Scotland. Orbex is developing the Prime launch vehicle, which will be capable of placing payloads weighing 150 kg (330 lb) into sun synchronous orbit. The maiden flight is scheduled for late 2022.