Thank you so much for all the support we have received so far in the campaign to stop the North Uist commercial rocket launch facility plans. We are delighted to report that there are now over 600 individual letters of objection on the Council's website.
Please could we ask all our supporters to help our cause by signing the petition below and sharing the link as widely as possible on social media.
THE COUNCIL'S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
The land at Scolpaig was purchased by the Council on the 6th June 2019 using borrowed money loaned by Prudential Borrowing.
The Council are the landowner, the applicant for planning permission, the judge of their own application and there will be no right to appeal against their decision. In a developed country such as Scotland, this situation beggars belief but it's true.
The Council are themselves responsible for choosing who will undertake any environmental assessments and for ensuring that they are of adequate quality.
Councillor Iain M Macleod owns shares in Qinetiq, who are part of the commercial rocket consortium, see below.
ROCKETS AND DISEASE, DESTRUCTION AND DEATH
THE COUNCIL HAVE ADMITTED THE FOLLOWING IN WRITING
Both liquid and solid rocket propellant fuels may be used. Some fuel will seep into the sea and there is a toxicity risk to crustaceans and fish. Comment: North Uist fishermen risk their lives at sea to supply the UK and Europe with the finest seafood caught in the world's cleanest waters. This is a vital part of the local economy - but this will be jeopardised if the Council go ahead with their plans.
Fuel spillage - "we will have copious quantities of water to deluge any spillage" Comment: Is this why they are building a rocket next to the pristine Loch Scolpaig?
Explosions - "we have protocols to deal with the environmental impact of explosion" and "we are doing everything we can to de-risk the project". Comment: we've all heard this before. Chernobyl rings a bell! Explosions during the launching of space rockets is surprisingly common. See what happened last week in Russia https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/08/explosion-military-base-russia-arkhangelsk
See this link for more about environmental effects from a rocket launch disaster
It is estimated that an average of 8% of all commercial rocket launches end in failure. The eventual target at the Scolpaig site is to launch 20 rockets a year (Atkins Scoping Report) which equals at least one rocket failure every year.
See the outcome of this accident during a rocket launch at Kodiak island launch site, one of 3 that have been publicised
PRESS REPORTS ABOUT ROCKETS AND DISEASE IN HUMANS
There are many reports freely available on the internet including cancer in Russians caused by rocket fuel propellants. Here is the link https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2014/01/23/toxic-russian-rocket-fuel-target-of-kazakh-anger-a31380
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reported disease in humans caused by perchlorate, which is a component of solid rocket fuel and has often been detected in drinking water supplies in close proximity to rocket launching sites. Perchlorate is known to cause thyroid disease in adults, children and unborn babies. Here is the link https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations/perchlorate-drinking-water-frequent-questions
There are more links to articles posted on our facebook page. To visit our facebook page, follow the latest news and join our community click here
The extract below is from a BBC article 16th July 2018.
At Scolpaig, there are people living permanently in close proximity to the blast zone (nearest house just 825m away). Never before have vertical launch space rockets been launched so frequently and so close to where people live. If the Council get their way, the residents of North Uist will become part of an experiment into the long term adverse health effects of rocket propellents on humans.
RSPB LETTER OF OBJECTION
They highlight several conflicts of interest at the bottom
There has been no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The Councils scoping report (Atkins 2018) confirmed that the spaceport as a whole represented a major development requiring an EIA to be completed and submitted with any planning application. However, because the Council are implementing the spaceport in four progressive stages, they claim that an EIA is not required because "phase one" alone is not a major development. Scotlands environmental regulator (SEPA) criticised the Council on 8/7/19 and highlighted a contradiction of Scottish Government Regulations (1/2017) which state "where a larger scheme requires an EIA, smaller component developments should not be progressed in the absence of an EIA." The take home message is that the Council could start building the spaceport without properly assessing the environmental impact unless the Government enforces the Directive and there is sufficient objection.
Scotland's environmental regulator (SEPA) objected strongly to the Council's planning application and you can read their damning report on the Council's website. Please note that as of 17/7/19 our direct link to this report became redirected to an error page on the Council's website. In case of difficulty please follow the instructions below:
Points raised by the SEPA report:
The intended spaceport infrastructure will comprise an admin/security building, 2 launchpad areas, 2 assembly buildings, fuel storage tanks, operations areas, blast protection structures and on site access roads (section 3.3.1 of Atkins report). The Council intend for the infrastructure to be implemented in a phased programme starting with "launchpad 1."
SEPA's objection and damning report identified multiple areas of concerns including:
The "phase 1" spaceport development is an integral part of an inevitably more substantial development (comprising phases 1, 2, 3 and 4) implying that the "aims of the Scottish Government Regulations and Directive (1/2017) are being frustrated by the submission of multiple planning applications."
"Why have the four concrete pads for radar stations not been included in the phase 1 planning application and the related environmental impacts assessed."
"Normal practice would require a peat depth survey to accompany the full planning application or a ground investigation to demonstrate that no peat is present in the areas to be disturbed, without which neither the carbon emissions nor environmental impact can be assessed.
"No habitat surveys have been submitted with this application and we therefore ask that a Phase 1 Habitat Survey is provided."
"We specifically requested information be provided on the types and volumes of fuel to be stored on the site with risks involved" which were not submitted.
"The scoping report states that the rocket emissions may have pollutants of concern.The (planning) application should quantify this impact and further information be submitted.
Proximity to protected environments
A substantial proportion of the proposed development site lies within the South Lewis,Harris and North Uist National Scenic Area (NSA).
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), (Vallay) is 1.7 km to the east of the proposed development with its protected breeding Little Tern colony.
Special Protected Area (SPA), (North Uist Machair and Islands). A designation under the European Union Directive stating that Scotland has a duty to safeguard this habitat. Which is only 1.7km from the site.
Special Area of Conservation (SAC), (North Uist Machair). This is protected by the European Union's Habitats Directive. Which is also only 1.7km from the site.
Ramsar protected area is only 1.7 km from the site .
Marine Protected Area (MPA), SAC and SPA the Monach Isles is 6.5 miles from the site with the land designated SSSI to protect the breeding birds (2.2% of the British population of breeding Black Guillemots). The Monach Isles colony of breeding Grey Seals is the largest in Europe and one of the biggest in the world.
SPA's and SAC's together are part of a network of protected sites across the European Union called Natura 2000. This in turn, is part of the Emerald Network of areas of Special Conservation Interest under the Berne Convention. These are internationally important sites whose qualifying interest could be affected by development outwith their boundaries.
In accordance with Local planning policy there is a requirement to demonstrate that development proposals will not significantly adversely affect biodiversity and ecological interests and, where possible, result in an enhancement of these interests.
There has been no proper public consultation to date.
The general public and Islanders have not been given enough information in order for them to be able make an informed decision about the Planning Application. The Council have agreed to hold public consultation meetings in mid August, one month after their original closing deadline for objections. Without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to inform public opinion these meetings can only be of limited value. The EIA would include the results of many studies and mitigation including water quality, air quality, pollution from rocket emissions, noise and vibration, archeology, biodiversity including impact on protected species and the nearby statutory sites of conservation importance. An extended Phase 1 habitat survey would also be required as part of the EIA and none of this has been done.
We are pleased to report that as of 16.46 hrs on 17/7/19 the Council extended the closing date for objections until after the public consultations (date not yet confirmed by the Council).
The Council have now received almost 500 letters of objection to accompany this damning SEPA report and still they march on with their phase 1 application !
We will post new events as they unfold here, so please check regularly for the latest news !!