Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, today challenged the Prime Minister in the House of Commons to ensure that commercial and technical expertise is prioritised in the allocation of support for a future spaceport in Scotland. The proposed Shetland Space Centre in Unst is under consideration for Government support and is seen as a good project location because of its clear airspace.
Mr Carmichael said:
“The Shetland Space Centre a limited company in my constituency is working in partnership with Lockheed Martin to build a sustainable space economy in Shetland. Can the Prime Minister give me some assurance that the very welcome Government support for the space industry will be allowed to follow the best commercial and technical options, and that companies like Lockheed Martin are the people best placed to make these judgements?”
Responding, the Prime Minister said:
“We will of course be guided by the best scientific judgements in all these and I can certainly confirm it is our firm determination to have a second spaceport in Scotland and we are looking for candidates to send into orbit.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“I am pleased that the Prime Minister is being guided by science and, in as far as that goes, it is welcome. It is not, however, entirely clear what it means and I shall follow that up with correspondence. Independent analysis has identified Unst as the best place to do this work. In a new industry like the space industry it is dangerous for governments to be picking winners and they should be guided by the real experts in the industry itself.”