Harper Macleod advises team behind Sutherland spaceport build

Image credit: Orbex

CONSTRUCTION and development specialists at law firm Harper Macleod have advised the developers behind plans to build mainland UK’s first vertical launch site for satellites.

Orbex is the Forres-based rocket manufacturer and orbital launch services provider aiming to build the spaceport on community-owned land on the A’Mhoine peninsula in north-west Sutherland, after signing a lease agreement with Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The Orbex-HIE agreement will last for 50 years, with an option to extend by a further 25 years. HIE leases the site from Melness Crofters’ Estate.

Harper Macleod has advised the Orbex team on the proposed spaceport, with building on the 10-acre site expected to start soon.

Orbex intends to create up to 40 new jobs to support the operation and maintenance of the site, in addition to those created during construction. The project has the backing of the Scottish Government and the UK Space Agency. Orbex will oversee the launch of up to 12 rockets a year which will carry satellites into low Earth orbit.

Euan Pirie, construction partner at Harper Macleod, said, “Scotland’s place in the world’s space industry is perhaps flying under the radar. Developers such as Orbex have ambitious and realistic plans to ensure Scotland is the next frontier for the sector.

“With access to exceptional technical talent, and an ideal geographical location, Orbex and its partners will soon be launching rockets into space which will add to the overall sector’s growth, while contributing to the local community in terms of job creation and investment.”

Chris Larmour, CEO at Orbex, added, “We are very grateful for the work that HIE and the Melness Crofters Estate have done, in getting us to the point where we can take the baton and start construction. We have collaborated closely with them over the past few years, and we are completely aligned in our vision of delivering a sustainable spaceport that will bring jobs and prosperity to the region.

“Orbex is the first European launcher company to also manage a dedicated spaceport. It is an important competitive advantage to the company, which will make it really easy for us to work with customers as we scale up our operations.”