finance

Billionaire landowners back Shetland Space Centre while opposing Sutherland site



The Shetland Space Centre has secured a significant minority investment from a Danish billionaire couple.

Through their Wild Ventures company, Anders and Anne Holch Povlsen have invested £1.43m in the site on Unst.

Lockheed Martin announced last month that it was transferring its satellite launch initiative there as part of the UK’s spaceflight programme.

However, another of the Povlsen’s ventures, Wildland Ltd, is taking legal action over planning permission for Space Hub Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.

The couple, reportedly worth around £4.5bn from their Bestseller clothing retail group, own thousands of acres of land in Sutherland. They have raised concerns about Space Hub Sutherland’s impact on the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area.

A statement explained that Wild Ventures Limited has looked at all the prospective Scottish spaceport sites and believe that the Shetland location, combined with its business model, affords the best chance for sustainable success.

Tim Kirkwood, chief executive of Wild Ventures Limited, 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 [Highlands and Islands Enterprise], the UKSA [UK Space Agency] and Lockheed Martin, it has become clear that Shetland Space Centre is a realistic investment prospect to be asked to be involved with.

“Even so, a planning application for a sensitive area has yet to be lodged and a high environmental bar will need to be thoroughly crossed,” he added.

Frank Strang, chief executive of Shetland Space Centre, said: “They have done their diligence on the space economy and got to grips with their understanding of the industry and the commercial realities of the space sector.

“The Scottish Space Leadership Council and Scottish Spaceports Alliance are united in their belief that space is a force for good and that the technologies associated with the sector can be harnessed to support initiatives that protect the environment.”



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