The Moray Economic Partnership (MEP) and Moray Council are recommending that the airfield at Kinloss be favoured over RAF Lossiemouth as the possible home for a future UK Spaceport.
A meeting of the economic development and infrastructure committee at Moray Council discussed the formal Moray response to Westminster and Civil Aviation Authority consultations on the plans.
The two Moray military bases are on a shortlist of possible UK sites for the Spaceport, with a timetable being laid by the government that would see a final decision being made before the UK General Election next year. The MEP was tasked with forming Moray’s response to the consultations.
In their draft response the MEP has highlighted Moray as being particularly well placed in both geographical terms and in the existing skill force available.
Presenting the response to councillor’s the head of development services Jim Grant said: “We are stating a preference in terms of Kinloss over Lossiemouth – that is a judgement being taken on the basis that we do not want a Spaceport in Lossiemouth to risk the presence of the RAF there.
“We would not want any decision in the future on the basing because there is less potential for that to happen if the Spaceport is at Kinloss.
“We would retain the activities of the RAF because to a certain extent they will provide support facilities for the Space industry in the long term and they will also would keep the facility there in terms of emergency landing at Lossiemouth.
“So there is a preference in the response for Kinloss rather than Lossiemouth for that reason.”
Mr Grant added that the response stressed the location of both airfields alongside the Moray Firth as posing a major advantage offering the unique possibility of a vertical launch pad being sited on the Moray Firth itself.
Committee chairman Councillor John Cowe stressed that Moray was clearly in a “well placed” position to host the Spaceport.
He added: “Not least for the fact that we have an emergency landing site within 12 miles, we have the weather, we have the expertise – so let’s hope that we can be successful in this.”
Consultation responses are required to be lodged by October 6 with a decision on a short-list of sites expected by November. The final choice as the home for the new Spaceport is expected to be announced early next year.
As well as Kinloss and Lossiemouth there are six sites being considered – Stornoway, Campbeltown, Prestwick and Leuchars in Scotland, Llanbedr in Wales and Newquay in Cornwall.