Reid calls for Spaceport at Machrihanish

Machrihanish is the obvious location for the UK's spaceport, Alan Reid, MP for Argyll and Bute, told Parliament.

Alan Reid MP pictured on the taxiway at Machrihanish Airbase with MACC Development Ltd Business manager, Malcolm McMillan (left) and Chairman, Jim Martin (right)

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday 12 February the LibDem MP pressured the government to announce the chosen site as soon as possible and said the community-owned former RAF base was the right place for the UK to reach for the stars.

"A spaceport will be a great boost to the British economy. Machrihanish with its three kilometre runway, all the facilities of an RAF base and far from densely populated areas is obviously the clear choice for the space port but I urge the government to go to the next phase of the decision-making process very quickly and choose Machrihanish as soon as possible," Mr Reid told the Commons.

Greg Clark MP, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, said the announcement would be made soon: "I met with transport and defence ministers yesterday (February 11) to discuss progress in delivering the UK's first space port.

"They are both part of the cross-governmental team taking forward the national space flight agenda. The government has undertaken a public consultation on the eight potential locations including Machrihanish, in the honourable gentleman's constituency, and the criteria that will be used to select the location of a UK spaceport. A response to this consultation will be published shortly."

And he added: "We will be taking the first part of his advice to proceed quickly but it would be wrong for me to pre-empt the outcome of that consultation and to nominate Machrihanish from the despatch box today."

Of the eight potential sites only two, Newquay and Llanbedr, are outwith Scotland; Machrihanish Prestwick, Kinloss, Stornoway, Leuchars and Lossiemouth are the Scottish contenders. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) "strongly recommended" that a UK spaceport be established at a coastal location.

When the Government went out to consultation last year the criteria included: an existing runway which is, or is capable of being extended to, more than 3,000 metres in length; the ability to accommodate dedicated segregated airspace to manage spaceflights safely and a reasonable distance from densely populated areas.

The Government's ambition is to have a spaceport open by 2018.

Mr Reid said: "I have backed the ambition and aspirations of the Machrihanish Community buy-out since day one. That dedicated group has been determined to bring prosperity to Kintyre. To have Machrihanish become the home of the UK's commercial space flights would be a tremendous boost for Kintyre.”

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