Cornwall’s Green Party is asking how Cornwall Council’s plan to spend £12 million on supporting the development of a spaceport at Newquay Airport can be justified in the light of the Council’s recent declaration of a climate emergency.
The money will be in addition to £7.8 million from the UK Space Agency towards the development of “Spaceport Cornwall”, with the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) providing a further £500,000.
The plan is for the site to be used to launch satellites from modified 747 jumbo jets owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, a spin-off from Mr Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism company.
Cornwall Green Party’s Co-coordinator Karen La Borde, who has been a driving force in the moves by local councils and Cornwall Council to declare a climate emergency, said:
“Cornwall Council cannot possibly justify spending £12 million on expanding Newquay airport for a so-called spaceport, when Cornwall remains one of the most deprived regions in Europe. Surely, this money would be better spent on improving public transport or retrofitting homes with insulation to improve the welfare of those living in Cornwall whilst also helping to reduce CO2 emissions. A spaceport benefits so few people at a very high environmental cost.
“While national and local government are proposing to pour over £20 million into a spaceport for the use of corporate customers, ordinary people in Cornwall are still waiting for the electrification of our main railway line – promised several decades ago but still not delivered.”
Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West said: “Greens are not opposed to the use of space technology for essential scientific research. Our membership of the EU has enabled participation by UK academics, researchers and companies in jointly funded projects such as the Galileo and Copernicus programmes – which is now threatened by Brexit. There are many better ways to invest £20 million in Cornwall’s future and create new jobs – not least by leading on the green industrial revolution.”
A 2015 report commissioned by Molly Scott Cato found that full development of Cornwall’s renewable energy resources has the potential to generate 161% of Cornwall’s total future energy needs and create more than 16,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
Cornwall Greens have been working on a Green vision for Cornwall’s future that details how Cornwall Council could take practical and achievable measures to speed the shift to a net-zero carbon economy while benefiting local people’s quality of life. The party will be sharing this with the Council and the public ahead of the Council’s meeting to discuss action on the climate emergency on 26 July.
- The Power to Transform the South West, a 2015 report commissioned by Molly Scott Cato MEP, identifies the potential for renewables across the region as a whole as well as providing a county-by-county analysis. See: https://mollymep.org.uk/2015/04/17/power-to-transform/