Space centre to result in tourism boost, safety board hears

Questions have been raised over a potential tourism boost as a result of Unst’s participation in the space race.

Members of the Shetland Community Safety and Resilience Board were told this morning that visitors could flock to the North Isle to see satellite launches for themselves.

But the update from emergency planning official Ingrid Gall prompted queries from one board member that emergency services would cope if anything went awry in the remote isle.

“When you have launches – especially initially – we’re expecting quite a lot of visitors to Unst,” said Ms Gall.

She said consideration was being given to how visitors were kept safe.

Shetland chief firefighter Matt Mason said the space project in Unst was “moving at a real pace,” and insisted the service was well positioned in its planning and preparation.

“The launches, particularly in the early days, are going to attract an awful lot of attention,” he said, adding people “staycationing” might consider Unst a go-to place.

“We’re expecting high numbers of visitors next year for the first launches.”

However, South Mainland councillor Allison Duncan sought reassurances.

“If there was a real emergency – God forbid – we have two boat crossings,” he said.

“No doubt that would require back up cavalry.”

Mr Mason said the launches were designed to be “fundamentally safe events” due to “rigorous” safety measures in place.

“In terms of our response we are planning to resource it appropriately.”


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