TALKS have taken place to press the case for a spaceport to be located in the Outer Hebrides.

Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse visited Uist for a meeting with local SNP Angus MacNeil; represent-atives from one of the businesses behind the proposal for a vertical take-off site – space technology firm QinetiQ; and the leader of and officials from local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

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MacNeil said: “Uist is the lead site in the UK for a vertical take-off facility to be located, not least because of local expertise. Last year during the maritime exercise Formidable Shield, Hebrides Range in Uist became the only place in the UK to have fired a rocket into space. It was also the heaviest, largest and highest rocket launched into space that has ever been fired from the British Isles.

“Any spaceport site would be based in Scolpaig on North Uist with a firing take off angle about 85 degrees towards the north west, going high between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Rockets would not go over any land and would travel higher than aircraft altitudes within 20 miles.”

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Council leader Roddie Mackay said: “The narrative we have heard from QinetiQ is the reason the spaceport proposal for North Uist is a very serious proposal and why it’s the leading vertical take-off option for the UK.”