Gwynedd: 'Spaceport' could be built in North Wales under UK galactic tourism push
Llanbedr Airfield shortlisted as one of six potential UK sites to host the nation's first spaceport for outer space tourism
Llanbedr could host the first ever UK base for “space planes”, sending rockets with tourists into orbit, according to UK government plans.
The Snowdonia airfield is on a shortlist of eight possible UK location for the first British spaceport to be announced this week at the Farnborough air show.
Representatives from the UK Space Agency will join Government ministers to reveal the potential locations for a dedicated spaceport which they hope will be ready by 2018.
Llanbedr Airfield, Gwynedd is the only site in Wales.
Six of the other possible locations are in Scotland – Stornoway airport, Kinloss barracks, RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Leuchars, Glasgow Prestwick and Campeltown.
New Quay, Cornwall is the other possibility.
As part of the ambitious plans, the government aims to capture 10% of the world’s space market by 2030, citing figures that the UK sector has grown by just over 7% in the past two years, making it worth 11 billion and employing 34,000 people.
Business Secretary Vince Cable, who will join representatives from the Department for Transport in making the announcement on Tuesday, said the UK space sector is booming.
He said: “This week we will announce the next steps for this country’s space race and how we will take one giant leap towards creating the first British spaceport, making space travel one step closer for all.”
While none of the eight locations have been officially named, Chief Secretary to the Treasurer Danny Alexander talked up the possibility of Scotland featuring in the announcement.
He told the BBC: “The UK space industry is one of our great success stories and I am sure there will be a role for Scotland to play in the future.”
The Government has said a spaceport would open up the UK tourism industry to specialist operators like Virgin Galactic and XCor, and predicted the sector could be worth £40 billion and provide 100,000 jobs if the 2030 target is met.
Last night, Llanbedr and Gwynedd Cllr Annwen Hughes voiced her surprise at the announcement.
Cllr Hughes said: “All I know is that it is about sending rockets up into space.
"We already know about the plans for drones at Llanbedr but haven’t been told much by Llanbedr Airfield Estates who are keeping their masterplan quiet.
“Nobody in Llanbedr has heard anything about the spaceport. I would think it would create a lot of noise and that there would be a lot of opposition.
“Any jobs it could bring would be welcome but there would be concern about noise pollution especially with the campsite business at Mochras (Shell Island).
"There’s two ways of looking at it but we need more information first.”
Last month, members of Cymdeithas y Cymod (Fellowship of Reconciliation) entered Llanbedr and painted “No Death Drones” on the runway in a protest against plans to develop UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) at the airfield.