FINAL planning permission has been granted for Scotland’s first spaceport.

The £17.3 million plan to launch satellites from the A’ Mhòine peninsula in Sutherland “represents a significant step forward,” according to Innovation Minister Ivan McKee.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved the budget to develop Space Hub Sutherland, which includes funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the UK Space Agency.

Final approval was granted by the Highlands Council today after the Scottish Government said the proposals do not require a decision at a national level on August 3.

Planning approval is subject to a set of 34 conditions, including measures to ensure operations are carried out safely and that the natural environment is protected.

READ MORE: Scottish band to play David Bowie to International Space Station

One condition is that the site will host no more than 12 launches a year.

The port will include a control centre, 2.5km of road and a launch pad, occupying a total of just over 10 acres of the 740-acre site.

The BBC reported that the council had received 457 objections to the plans and 118 representations in support of them.

Locals registered worries about damage to the environment and road network due to construction traffic, and a potential influx of visitors once the spaceport is operational.

Environmental groups have also warned of the potential for wildfires caused by accidents from the space port.

Protect the Mhoine and Extinction Rebellion said the remote and open peatlands may prove fertile ground for repeats of the 2019 Sutherland wildfire, “which raged for six days over 20,000 acres”.

“Scientists estimated that the carbon released by the wildfire doubled Scotland’s emissions over those six days,” the groups said.

The National: New SNP MSP Ivan  McKee

However, welcoming the plans, Innovation Minister McKee (above) said the port would “support around 250 well-paid jobs in the Highlands and Islands, including 61 in Caithness and Sutherland”.

“This is the first of Scotland’s spaceport projects to clear the planning process and it represents a significant step forward for both the project and Scotland’s aspiration to offer the full end to end capability for manufacturing and launching small satellites and analysing their data,” he went on.

“The space sector has a key role to play in the fight against global climate change and this milestone has been achieved through the hard work of the Sutherland team in partnership with the local community, leading experts and public bodies.”

It is expected that some of the satellites launched from the site may be used to monitor climate change.

Graham Turnock, chief executive of UK Space Agency, added: “Growing our domestic launch capability will bring new jobs and investments to communities in all corners of the UK.

“Space Hub Sutherland is an integral part of these plans and today’s news strengthens our position as Europe’s leading destination for small satellite launches.”

READ MORE: Rocket test hailed as milestone in UK’s ‘new space revolution’

David Oxley, director of business growth with HIE, also welcomed the council’s decision, saying: “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.

“Another important aspect is the role that satellites launched from Sutherland will play in gathering data that will help people around the world to understand and address the impacts of climate change.

“In developing our plans, we have always been very mindful of the environmental challenges presented by a project of this kind. Part of our ambition is to create the world’s most low-carbon space centre and the conditions applied to the planning approval will help us make that a reality.

“When all these factors are put together, that makes today’s decision a good result not just for the economy, but for the environment as well.”