Brendan O’Hara, Argyll & Bute’s SNP MP, has been highlighting the strength of the case of the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company’s [MACC] site near Campbeltown in Kintyre to be the successful applicant for the UK’s first Spaceport.
Mr O’Hara says: ‘On Friday, I met again with the team at the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company, the community-owned company currently bidding to host the UK Spaceport.
‘I need no convincing of the potential benefit to Argyll and Bute if their bid is successful – what MACC are proposing could transform the west of Scotland and reverse the fortunes of this spectacular peninsula. This decision should be a no-brainer for the UK Government
‘The criteria for the Spaceport could have been based on the merits of this site alone.
‘It’s sufficiently rural, coastal yet accessible.
‘It has the airspace, the storage and the necessary infrastructure.
‘But if that wasn’t enough, it has twice been approved for spaceflights – first by NASA and then Virgin Galactic.’
‘This bid is unique in its scope. It has the vision and best of all it is a community-enterprise. It ticks every box.
‘We now need to show those making the decision on where the UK Spaceport will be, that not only does Machrihanish fulfil all the essential criteria, it has the vision and ambition to make this facility world-class but is also backed by the community within which it should reside.
My message to everyone in this and the wider communities across Argyll and Bute is: ‘Back this bid – make your voices heard and let’s bring business and people back to Kintyre’.
Mr O’ Hara is perfectly ight that the decision ought to be a ‘no-brainer’ for the UK Government. He omits the major threat, to the MACC case though, which is that its primacy ought to be a no-brainer for the Scottish Government as well.
But the Scottish Governemnt is actually a competitor to MACC and will be investing public money in its own bid for the Spaceport to come to Prestwick Airport in congested Ayrshire near Ardrossan – which it owns.
Prestwick, with Campbeltown and Stornoway, are the three shortlisted Scottish sites, with one in South Wales and one on the south coast of England.
Mr O Hara is also right in mentioning the issue of infrastructure as a strength of the MACC case – but that infrastucture is site-related and not access-related – a weakness in the Macc case for which there is redress and which For Argyll will address in its forthcoming analysis of the first report from the Argyll and Bute Economic Forum.
Mr O’Hara’s vigorous support for the Kintyre proposal will be widely welcomed. It is centrally important to Argyll as a whole that this proposal is business-like, committed, powerfully evidenced, irresistably presented – and successful.