28 November 2020
Billionaire landowner invests in Shetland space port
A billionaire couple have invested almost £1.5m in plans for a space port in Shetland while opposing a similar project near where they own land.
Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen's company Wildland Ltd is taking legal action over planning permission for Space Hub Sutherland in the Highlands.
Another of their firms has invested in Shetland Space Centre on Unst.
The Shetland site is a former RAF station while the one in Sutherland is undeveloped peatland.
Danish businessman Mr Povlsen, who is reportedly worth £4.5bn thanks to his Bestseller clothes retail empire, and his wife own thousands of acres of land in Sutherland, and on other estates in the Highlands.
Wildland Ltd has raised concerns about Space Hub Sutherland's impact on the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area, and has sought a judicial review of Highland Council's permission for the satellite launch project.
Another of the Povlsens' companies, Wildland Ventures Ltd, has invested in Shetland Space Centre.
US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has secured permission from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to push ahead with plans for satellite launches from the proposed site in Unst.
Public agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is involved in both the Shetland and Sutherland proposals.
Tim Kirkwood, of Wildland Ventures Ltd, said the Unst project would still need to cross a "high environmental bar".
He said: "We have long been supportive of the idea that, if developed appropriately, the space industry can deliver great benefits for Scotland's rural economy.
"What is needed is the right development in the right place."
"As a project involving an ex-RAF base, a brownfield site, a promising location, and now with backing from HIE, the UKSA and Lockheed Martin, it has become clear that Shetland Space Centre is a realistic investment prospect to be asked to be involved with."
Frank Strang, of Shetland Space Centre, has welcomed the support from Wildland Ventures Ltd.
UK rockets manufacturer Orbex described the Povlsens' investment as a "significant reversal of position and an acknowledgement that spaceports and wildland environments can happily co-exist".
The company, which operates factories and test sites in Scotland, has secured contracts for six launches of commercial satellites from Sutherland.