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Union unite behind spaceport

By Staff Reporter

Unite backs the spaceport planned for Tongue.
Unite backs the spaceport planned for Tongue.

The Unite union has this week thrown its support behind the proposed spacehub at A’Mhoine near Tongue.

Following criticism of the proposed site by two academics who presented a report to a meeting on rural entrepreneurship in Inverness last week, several bodies have openly criticised their findings.

Richard Whyte, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Both the Highland Council and NHS Highland forecast large population decline in the coming years for Sutherland and Caithness.

“This means it’s vital to attract investment in industries and skills such as the Spacehub project which will create hundreds of new high-quality jobs in the area.

“There are currently billions of pounds’ worth of investment in energy and infrastructure taking place across the Highlands and we need to find ways to make sure as much of the investment benefits local people, particularly young people leaving school who are looking for employment and that’s why Unite is putting its full weight behind this project.”

And Trudy Morris, chief executive of the Caithness Chamber of Commerce, blasted the findings of the academics’ study which cast doubt on the economic benefits of the
£17.3 million project.

She said it “seems unlikely” HIE and the UK Space Agency would agree to invest in the project without “clearly understanding the costs and benefits involved”.

She continued: “We understand an independent assessment was carried out and we know that the potential site operators have the level of job creation at 40 high-quality jobs locally, 400 across the region.

“Development and diversification of rural economies such as that of the north Highlands is key if we are to address ongoing concerns about demographic change.”

Preparatory work has already begun to answer questions about the threat to wildlife. Highlands and Islands Enterprisesaid the new preparatory work will agree the scope of environmental impact studies that should be carried out.

They said: “Understanding environmental impacts of satellite launches, as well as the economic benefits, will be crucial factors in determining the outcome of a future planning application.”

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