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North Highland and Moray Space Cluster to create hundreds of jobs


By Ewan Malcolm

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UP to 740 jobs could be created throughout Moray and the Highlands and Islands by the new Sutherland Space Hub.

The first launch at Space Hub Sutherland is planned for 2022. Picture: Ramboll UK.
The first launch at Space Hub Sutherland is planned for 2022. Picture: Ramboll UK.

That's according to a new report commissioned by the Caithness Chamber of Commerce which aims to attract a space business cluster to the area.

The report also estimates that a Northern Space Cluster could boost the regional economy by £56 million per year by the end of the decade.

It was produced for Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership through funding from Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership Chairman Ian Ross, said: "As a commercial spaceport, Space Hub Sutherland will play a critical role in bringing income and employment to the North Highlands and Moray region.

"It will help to retain highly skilled individuals in the area and offer opportunities to young people to help stem the flow of depopulation. Space Hub Sutherland will unlock further development of the Moray space cluster and support UK and Scottish government objectives for growing the space sector."

Trudy Morris, Chief Executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: "In addition to the clear economic benefits to the region, this report also demonstrates the capability, flexibility and willingness of the local supply chain to capture opportunities in a new industry.

"With experience in a wide range of energy sectors, our highly-skilled local supply chain is ready and able to engage with the UK space sector as this exciting development proceeds."

The space hub is being developed by HIE. It was the first vertical satellite launch site to secure planning permission in the UK and could become Europe's first continental orbital spaceport.

Initial estimates predict that a further 520 jobs could be supported throughout Scotland by 2030. That includes more jobs for Forres space rocket manufacturers Orbex which currently employs 90 people. They are looking to expand that to around 400 locally within the next 5 years.

Chris Larmour, Chief Executive Officer at Orbex said "Space Hub Sutherland is already a catalyst for new jobs and commercial opportunities in the North Highlands and Moray – and this will only intensify over the coming years. We are happy to play our part in this economic growth and to create new prospects for young people in the area."

The UK economy would gain an additional £99 million through the North Highland and Moray Space Cluster. Over £90 million of that will be generated in Scotland.

The spaceport will support more than 40 full-time jobs when fully operational with 12 launches per year planned initially. However, more jobs will be created in construction and tourism, with the launches expected to attract an annual total of more than 4,400 visitors. It is hoped that their spending will boost local hospitality businesses.


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