Opponents of the planned £17.3 million spaceport in Sutherland believe the Ministry of Defence wants to use it to launch ballistic missiles.

John Williams, chairman of the Protect the Mhoine campaign group, was quoted in local media saying:

“If it is a commercial success they will want to be involved and if it is a failure they will step in to save it. They will end up with a missile site – capable of firing ballistic missiles – without the opprobrium they would have got if they had proposed the project originally. They want a ballistic missile site on the north coast. One thing we know about the MoD is that they do not give up.”

However, the MoD said (quite accurately too given they have no land based ballistic missiles or any plans to procure them):

“We have no plans to use this site for missile launches.”

A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said:

“We are developing plans for Space Hub Sutherland as a vertical launch site for small satellites, and no other purpose.”

The UK Space Agency had earlier selected Lockheed Martin to establish vertical launch operations in Sutherland, Scotland.

The company will also ‘develop innovative technologies’ in Reading, Berkshire with support from two UK Space Agency grants totalling £23.5 million. A further £5.5 million will go to British company Orbex to build an innovative new rocket for launch from Sutherland, as part of Government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

The government say that this builds on awards of £2.5m to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop a vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland and a £2m development fund for horizontal spaceports such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia

Under the plans, global space leader Lockheed Martin and innovative spaceflight company Orbex will launch rockets (not ballistic missiles) into space from the north coast of Scotland.

Earlier in the year, we reported that Orbex had announced that it is partnering with UK based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) to carry an experimental payload on its maiden flight from Scotland in 2021.

The first launch of the Orbex Prime rocket will represent a first for the UK space industry, showcasing the UK’s end to end satellite launch capability, combining a UK rocket, a UK satellite and a UK launch site.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Awesome! Just the thing to start the sundowners on a Friday…
Ballistic missiles..for f$&@s sake!!


This is beyond hilarious. The UK doesn’t own any ballistic missile but is apparently planning to install them. What next, they’re going to turn it into a nucelar missile silo with land based missiles we don’t have?


We don’t have any!!
Jesus christ….what a stupid thing to say!

Gavin Gordon

How did this bloke get to comment on any part of the technology issues in the first place? It’s beyond ‘SNP’ and well into Green-land.

Chris J

Whoever is behind the ‘Protect the Mhoine campaign group’ appears to be a sandwich short of a picnic… Check out their facebook page. Complains people accuse them of being a conspiracy theorists, then proceeds to share conspiracy theories…

He’s taken the phrase “the U.K. can use the Melness location to get operationally relevant assets into space, ideally within 72 hours of need” Stated by the Air-Chief Marshall to mean ICBMs. Anyone pointing out the factual errors with his theory is immediately shouted at and then banned regardless of how polite and respectful the original post was…


Unless he is suggesting that the MOD move the the THOR in the museum at RAF Cosford, it’s a shame that whoever reported this failed to ask him to name the missiles.


Amazing isn’t it we specifically removed all land based ICBMs when I was a kid because they were totally impractical even then but all these years later when I’m retired and when the logic is substantially less defendable this dullard thinks they will be deemed a good and practical idea even if we could somehow find the funds. No wonder this country is losing its mind.

Robert Stevenson

INF Treaty was signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Regan 8th December 1987 and came into force on 1st June 1988

So we would be in contravention of the treat, if we built or launch them. He’s an embarrassment to my country

Daniele Mandelli

Brilliant. Is he SNP, Green, or some other crackpot by any chance?


What’s the poor greens got to do with it. The premise that our present consumption, growth based system supporting 7.7 billion souls and growing is unsustainable and will lead to death on a scale never before seen, is unfortunately very much backed up by shed loads of evidence and scientific observation. The greens actual just follow a very basic environmental principle, which has been observed by scientists for for long long time. If a population out grows it’s resources the eco system they depend on collapses and the population dies off, unfortunately that’s looking like humanity within a couple of… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Apologies. You have a valid point.

Just SNP then!


The Greens are fundamentally wrong and use green credentials to push a highly left wing and progressive agenda. One would have thought, that if they cared a jot about the environment they’d pursue reasonable, centerist policies outwith the environment to give them a chance of gaining power and driving their environmental aspirations in government but they don’t. They’re happy to sit on the sidelines for decades whilst supposedly proclaiming the immenancy of environmental catastrophe. If they truly believed what they preached they’d sacrifice their unelectable policies to save the world – but they don’t. Tells you all you need to… Read more »

Nigel Collins

Ever so slightly off topic but I thought people might be interested. Not sure if George Allison could start a new page/thread for further discussion on this topic?

“F-35 jets: Chinese-owned company making parts for top-secret UK-US fighters”

“Describing its involvement in the aircraft programme, the MoD publication said: “Gloucestershire-based Exception PCB manufacture the circuit boards that control many of the F-35’s core capabilities.”


Robert Perry

Total non story this company manufactures bare PCB to their customers design. no components are mounted by them so how can the Chinese embed hidden code.

Nigel Collins

Quite possibly not the case Robert Perry, hence the concern. “The top minds of the Twitterverse believe this could be done by embedding a small microcontroller inside the motherboard’s PCB, between the baseboard management controller and its Flash memory. This small microcontroller stuck between a few layers of PCB could, in theory, change a few bits of the BMC’s Flash to give attackers a back door” Personally, I have no knowledge in this area, but if they succeeded with one board in such a sensitive area, how much information on the core workings of the F-35 could they have accessed?… Read more »

Robert Perry

Who said the PCB has a microcontroller and flash memory, its not a mobile phone or even a PC motherboard. Whilst it is feasible to hide stuff between the layers of a PCB you would need access to information that the PCB manufacturer does not have such as circuit diagram, what items will be fitted etc. If the PCB was being built and assembled in China then there is concern I agree. You say you have no knowledge of this area, well I am an electronics engineer and have designed PCB’s in the past and never used to tell the… Read more »

Nigel Collins

That’s correct Robert, I have no Knowledge, hence my concern after reading the first sentence after the intro.

“F-35 jets: Chinese-owned company making parts for top-secret UK-US fighters

An expert said it’s possible to embed technology such as a chip without a customer’s knowledge that could change how it functions.”

Robert Perry

Seriously it is very possible to incorporate a chip without the customer knowing, just as likely is embedded code in chips that opens a back door for outside hacking. You should be worried about the iphones and android phones that are built inside China, even your PC motherboards, modems and routers. Any device that can communicate with the outside world is open to hacking. I fail to see how a PCB manufacturer could incorporate such a device on a board they have no detailed knowledge of. I remember seeing a steam engine model that was smaller than a pinhead and… Read more »

Nigel Collins

If I need to contact you, I’ll call China!

James M

Nigel – While it is theoretically possible to embed chips within the physical board, I’d be willing to bet that whoever these PCBs get sent to for component installation will be performing quality control on every single one, which will include x-ray inspection. Anything hidden inside would stick out like a sore thumb. Even if they didn’t, the manufacturer would have to have access to the circuit diagrams to be able to put something in that could actually cause any issues, and all Exception do is make the bare boards. Remember – the Twitterverse is full of morons, I’d take… Read more »


Also, its Chinese ‘owned’. But they make the PCB’s in Gloucestershire with British workers…

The idea that UK workers will embed chips in a PCB that could then be used without knowing the design and configuration of the circuit printed on top is beyond mad..


I bet the true use of this site will be a landing site for aliens. lol

David E Flandry

Yes, as an alternative for Area 51.

Geoffrey Roach

A “wee” dram too many I’m thinking.


The Brits have never had land based ICBM’s. The Americans based some in the UK during the 60’s from memory but generally they have been abandoned as being too vulnerable by older Nuclear Powers-the Americans scrapped many of their sites and France abandoned that leg of their Force de Frappe some years ago. Only the several emerging and middle order Nuclear powers such as for example North Korea have developed land based systems as the first prize submarine launched are beyond their budgets and capabilities

Mike W

According to Wikipedia Thor was deployed to the UK starting in August 1958, operated by 20 squadrons of RAF Bomber Command under US-UK dual key control.[2] The first active unit was No. 77 Squadron RAF at RAF Feltwell in 1958, with the remaining units becoming active in 1959. All were deactivated by September 1963.


RAF Feltwell … how humorous! Presumably the station commander was Group Captain Groper?


You sure it wasn’t Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper? lol

Bloke down the pub

If the dingbat’s fear is that the space base could be a target for a Russian preemptive strike, he may not be quite so far off the mark. During a period of raised tension, there would be the desire to put extra surveillance and communications satellites into low-earth orbit and the Scottish site would be ideal for this, as mentioned in the quote used by Chris J. Whether any country would risk retaliation just to stop that is, however, unlikely.


I’m just pleased I will be able to see a rocket launched without having to travel to some far off corner of the world that’s to hot for my poor Northern Europe genetics.

peter french

Well J
John Williams 10/10 for imaginative alarmist thinking , trouble is that some would believe and some want to believe you and some would make a huge issue out of it for political purposes
How is it that prats like this are allowed out

peter french

The sheer stupidity and manufactured fear of John Williams is beyond parallel . Uk doea not have any land launched missiles nor does it need them, The deterrent is Submarines and will continue to be so. Land bases for launching Missiles are sitting targets for potential enemies missiles. So can it you silly man youre just preying on peoples ignorance