A planning application for what could become the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport has been approved by The Highland Council. The site, located at Melness in Sutherland, is on course to be available to launch small satellites typically used for Earth observation within two years.
The project is being developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise with funding from the UK Space Agency and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The project will directly create 61 jobs in Sutherland and Caithness, as part of a total 250 jobs that it is expected to generate across the Highlands and Islands.
Pell Frischmann’s transport planning team in Edinburgh has led the offsite transport and access elements of the projects, working with Ramboll who were responsible for the wider Environmental Impact Assessment. Pell Frischmann undertook the Transport Assessment and the EIA Transport Chapter covering both the construction and operational phases of the project. This required careful consideration of the access routes to site and the potential for traffic impacts arising on rural roads that make up the scenic NC500 route around the north coast of Scotland.
Developing traffic flow estimates for a vertical launch site was particularly complex and required careful consideration of the number of traffic movements associated with the launch vehicles, their support teams and how many spectators would come to view launch days.
Pell Frischmann’s Project Director, Gordon Buchan said, “Working with Ramboll, we have provided a robust assessment of the likely impacts that would arise with this unique development. The Transport Assessment is unique within the northern hemisphere and required extremely careful consideration. We have developed a range of transport interventions that will help minimise the impact during construction and operation and look forward to the first flight.”