Are the Spaceport and Cornwall’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency Compatible?

Posted on: 13th June 2019


Are the Spaceport and Cornwall’s declaration of a Climate Emergency compatible? That is a question popping up on social media and other places.

This is the response being issued by the Leader of Cornwall Council, Julian German. What do you think? Let me know by email or respond to my Facebook post on the subject.

I appreciate both your concerns about this particular project and your support for the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency. It is important to note that the Council’s financial involvement in spaceport is subject to Council decision making processes, including Cabinet and full Council agreement to expenditure.

Following the declaration of a climate emergency at the Council in January, we promised to produce a plan by July for how Cornwall can work towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030. We are on track to deliver the report. The draft report was recently reviewed, and supported, by a Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

During the journey to tackle climate change there will be challenging decisions. The shift required to tackle climate change will involve working across multiple systems and sectors, engaging with residents and changing our lifestyles. It is likely that information, made available by satellites, will assist in reducing carbon emissions and pollution through better resource management. Some initiatives that have strong economic and social benefits will need to be balanced against their impact on the environment. I welcome the debate that has started and Cabinet will be out across Cornwall over the next few weeks listening to residents views about this.

In relation to spaceport Cornwall specifically, the Space Industry Act 2018 covers the requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments of launch systems. Clause 11 of the Act covers the Assessment of Environmental Effect of a Launch, although the exact methodology of the impact assessments required will only be known later this year when the draft guidance will be issued by Government. Both the Spaceport Licence and the Operator licence holder will be required to undertake and submit an assessment of environmental effects as a part of any licence to the regulator.

A comprehensive Environment Impact Assessment of all areas of activity of Spaceport Cornwall will need to be commissioned and published as part of the regulatory and licence applications once the secondary Spaceport legislation has been passed by Government. A full environmental impact study will be carried out on the project including looking at the carbon impacts of space launch in Cornwall and if it can be mitigated by appropriate action. 

I hope that the Council will introduce a carbon budgeting approach and projects will be assessed in this context. I, and the Council, remain committed to tackling climate change.

Yours sincerely

Julian German

  • Leader of the Council
  • Cornwall Councillor for the Roseland Division
  • Hembrenkyas an Konsel
  • Konseler Kernow rag Pastel-vro An Konsel Kernow