A CROFTER who is a key figure in bringing the world’s first carbon neutral space port to the far north of Scotland is set to address the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Dorothy Pritchard, the chairwoman of Melness Crofters’ Estate in Sutherland, will be one of the leading voices in a discussion on Friday on peat restoration.

Entitled the Rights and Cultures of Peat, the event will focus on the extraction of peat from a cultural perspective, along with the science and the legal rights of peat managers.

Melness Crofters’ Estate was founded in 1995 and will soon become home to Space Hub Sutherland.

It will be the world’s first carbon-neutral space port, as well as the first on working croft land, and its first launch is planned for next year from the A'Mhoine peninsula, in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Orbex.

Peat restoration will play a vital part in development of the project as it will minimise the removal of peat, while also repairing large areas of peatland which have been used for domestic peat extraction for decades.

Among the plans are the construction of floating roads to access Space Hub Sutherland.

This will minimise the impact on the peatland as the roads will sit on top of it, allowing the peat to exist underneath and minimising the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

The Rights and Cultures of Peat is on at the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Peatland Pavilion in the Blue Zone on Friday, where Pritchard will share a pre-recorded presentation, before taking part virtually in a question and answer session.

She said: “Peat cutting played a big part in community life and culture here in Sutherland as hard-working crofters once used peat to heat their homes.

“However, we now know that healthy peatland plays a crucial role in reducing the impact of global warming.

“This is an opportunity to shine a light on the hard work, commitment and dedication of those who are bringing the world’s first carbon neutral spaceport to life whilst ensuring peat restoration is considered at each stage.

“I’m confident that Space Hub Sutherland is going to be a good example of how development, sustainability and protecting our natural environment can go hand in hand.”