Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has announced approval from the Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee for the Space Hub Sutherland spaceport in Scotland, UK.

Following approval to build the vertical launch spaceport, small commercial satellites and launch vehicles designed and manufactured in the country could be heading into orbit from a Scottish spaceport within the next few years.

Scottish government ministers will now review the decision made by the committee.

Space Hub Sutherland is planned to be built on an area of peatland next to the A838 on the Melness Crofters Estate on the A’ Mhòine peninsula.

A control centre, 2.5km of road and a launch pad that would occupy a total of just more than 10 acres of the 740-acre site will be the infrastructure related to the launch.

HIE business growth director David Oxley said: “The UK’s space ambitions present a wonderful opportunity for the Highlands and Islands.

“A vertical launch spaceport is a key piece of the national jigsaw, along with the design and manufacture of satellites and launch vehicles, that will ensure Scotland can derive maximum economic benefits from this growing and exciting sector.”

The board of HIE approved in principle a budget of £17.3m in 2018 for the project. This included contributions of £2.5m from the UK Space Agency, and £5m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

HIE commissioned specialists to conduct environmental impact assessments for two years as part of its planning application. The assessment concluded that developing the spaceport could support around 250 jobs in the Highlands and Islands.

Orbex, the launch partner of HIE, has already established a design and manufacturing facility in Forres, Moray to make the Prime vehicle that will be assembled and put into orbit from Sutherland.

The decision will allow Orbex to complete the detailed scoping of its own launch site installation and launch preparation team.

Satellites that are planned to be launched from the site will be used for Earth observation, including gathering data to monitor and address the effects of climate change globally.

The first launch is expected to be as early as 2022. Once fully operational, the spaceport could host up to 12 launches a year.