Leuchars remains on the shortlist for UK’s permanent spaceport - but it could be in a reduced a role as a ‘potential temporary facility’ for space travel from the UK.
The Department of Transport’s response to consultation on the location of the UK’s first spaceport recognises that “the planned future use of RAF Leuchars is likely to preclude it from being a permanent spaceport.”
Anything that would bring jobs, business and enterprise to north east Fife is a good thing which I welcomeCouncillor Tim Brett
But it continues: “However, at this early stage in identifying the best location, the Government does not wish to rule out the possibility of using a military airfield altogether.”
What that means for Leuchars in the space age is not clear, but a spokesman for the Department of Transport this week said it was: “premature to rule out Leuchars completely”, adding: “There is planned usage for it by the Army which looks likely to preclude its usage as a permanent spaceport, but it could be used as a temporary spaceport if required.”
Local Fife Councillor Tim Brett was: “Pleased we are still in the frame.
“Anything that would bring jobs, business, enterprise to north east Fife is a good thing which I welcome.”
Huw Bell, the Scottish Conservative candidate for North East Fife, also welcomed the news: “I think Leuchars has a lot to offer, it could be a top player.
“I firmly believe that the location would have many benefits to commercial space operators and if there are opportunities offered to take passengers into space, this would really enhance boost our already strong tourist economy.”
Space is already big business for the UK, contributing £11.3 billion to the economy each year and supporting nearly 35,000 jobs.
Now the Government is developing a detailed technical specification of spaceport requirements to increase understanding of ‘what is a spaceport’ and the detailed requirements for spaceplane operations.