Highland site to be surveyed ahead of space hub build

Image credit: Norr

BAM Nuttall and Arup are to begin detailed ground investigations at Melness Crofters Estate today (May 26) ahead of plans to establish Space Hub Sutherland at the site.

Regional development agency, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said it plans to establish the hub as a ‘core’ part of the launch capability required to meet the UK’s ambitions to be a competitive player in the growing international space market.

It said that up to 12 launches a year could take place from Sutherland, sending small, commercial satellites into orbit for Earth observation and other purposes, including monitoring and understanding climate change.

The team of surveyors will explore sections of the 4.2 hectare site to establish the sequence and thickness of the soil strata and the level of bedrock which lies beneath. Laboratory testing of peat, soil and rock samples will also be carried out, with the findings being used to inform detailed design of foundations, access roads and spaceport infrastructure.

Groundwater conditions, the ground gas regime and any contamination that may be present on the site will also be examined as part of the investigation. Stand pipes to monitor gas and ground water will remain on site for a short period following the survey.

An environmental clerk of works will be present as a key member of the survey team, ensuring that all required steps are taken to avoid and mitigate any disturbance to landscape and wildlife, including birds.