Stornoway rules itself out of spaceport running

A plane bound for Edinburgh takes off from Stornoway Airport on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Ian Rutherford
A plane bound for Edinburgh takes off from Stornoway Airport on the Isle of Lewis. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A SCOTTISH airport has ruled itself out of the running to become Europe’s first spaceport – just hours after being shortlisted.

Stornoway Airport was one of just six in the UK named as possible locations for the spaceport.

A computer generated image of what the new spaceport may look like. Picture: Contributed

A computer generated image of what the new spaceport may look like. Picture: Contributed

But owners, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), then announced they would not be making a “business proposal” for the role.

The UK Government confirmed widespread support for its plans to make commercial spaceflight operations in the UK a reality by 2018.

Three locations in Scotland were shortlisted by the Civil Aviation Authority, including Stornoway, Campbeltown and Glasgow Prestwick. RAF Leuchars was also confirmed as a potential temporary facility.

Two others south of the border were named, Newquay in Cornwall and Llanbedr in Wales.

“Our preference is to concentrate on our core business of providing airports that serve the people of the Highlands & Islands”

Grenville Johnston

The Government ruled out at RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Barracks in Moray for operational reasons, given their role in defence.

Grenville Johnston, Chairman of the HIAL Board, said: “HIAL has carefully considered the proposals for a spaceport at various Scottish sites, including Stornoway Airport, which HIAL owns, and Campbeltown Airport, which it manages on behalf of Machrihanish Airbase Community Company.

“As owners of Stornoway Airport, it is currently not our intention to submit a business proposal.

“In the event that the owners of Campbeltown Airport decide to proceed we will give them every support and cooperation.”

He added: “The Board believes that HIAL has the knowledge, capability and expertise to offer technical support to potential investors in spaceports.

“However, our preference is to concentrate on our core business of providing airports that serve the people of the Highlands & Islands.

“We would nevertheless welcome the opportunity to engage with potential operators and provide whatever technical assistance and logistical support they might require.”

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