At the UK’s most northerly tip, plans are in place for our very own version of Cape Canaveral.
The UK Space Agency has identified this sparsely populated spot near Sutherland, Scotland, as the best place to launch small rockets carrying satellites.
If approved, up to 12 launches a year could be made from the site.
Development agency Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) says it would create up to 250 jobs across Scotland, 44 of them in the local community, as well as being a boost for tourism.
But the area, known as The Flow Country, is widely considered to be the largest area of blanket bog in the world and holds 400 million tonnes of carbon – more than every tree in the UK.
Since the end of the last ice age, this site, in the running for World Heritage status, has been capturing carbon dioxide – one of our most important natural tools in the fight against climate change.
It is feared rockets blasting satellites into space will not only shatter the calm of this fragile ecosystem and terrify its rare wildlife, but any launch failures, hazardous fuels or flaming debris will be a significant fire risk.
Scientists say once the peat is disturbed, the damage is done for good and the impact will be felt more widely than just in this remote corner of the UK.
Last May, fire destroyed 22sq miles of peatland, doubling Scotland’s greenhouse gas emmisions for the six days it burnt.
Healthy peatland also acts as a natural water store by absorbing vast quantities of rainfall, so the burning in the Yorkshire Moors – particularly in the towns in the Calder Valley which have been flooded repeatedly – should be closely examined.
It will be ironic in the same year we are aiming to be a world leader in climate action, while hosting COP26 in Glasgow, if the go-ahead is given to not only killing off one of the most effective tools we have in combatting climate change but making the situation
Despite both Westminister and Scotland declaring a climate emergency, giving this project the green light will be ecological suicide.
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