Did my question stir things up?
At our last full council meeting, I asked the relevant Cabinet Member whether there was any truth in the reports that Richard Branson was bringing his space tourism to Cornwall? I was happy with the reply of “no” and that if in the future it was being considered, a vote in Full Council would be required.
This question has featured on radio Cornwall and today in the Cornishman. The Cabinet Member has also issued a clarifying statement because a Tory M.P has been challenging the Council on it’s stance, claiming you do not know what the future will bring and that it was foolish to dismiss the idea of Space Tourism coming to Cornwall. From hearing him on radio Cornwall, I got the impression that a Tory run Council would say to Richard Branson “Come on in!” So, if you do not want space tourism, taking off in Cornwall, think carefully how you vote in May!
Here is the statement from Geoff Brown, Cabinet Member, on the issue:
The response given to Cllr James question on space tourism at Full Council seems to have been misinterpreted by some. For clarity, what I said was that Cornwall Council was not engaged in Space Tourism. We are working in partnership with the UK Space Agency and Virgin Orbit (VO) to deliver the first low orbit satellite launch in Europe.
Following the successful first satellite launch by VO and their launch aircraft Cosmic Girl in January this year, we are progressing Cornwall Spaceport at Newquay to enable these small satellites, many constructed in the UK, to be launched from Cornwall. These small-scale satellites are vital to enhance communications and monitor planet Earth, so key to climate change.
At no time during the build-up to Spaceport has the council considered space tourism. The technology for this is still some way off and is operated by various companies including Virgin Galactic. Our partnership is solely with Virgin Orbit the satellite launch aspect of the Virgin Group.
Whilst we cannot rule out space tourism in the future, any such suggestion would require the detailed consideration and support of Full Council if it were to progress. In the meantime, we will focus on complying with the regulations, as soon as they are available from government, to create the first spaceport in Europe building on and creating more well-paid jobs for our young people in the future of space technology.
I hope this clarifies the Council’s position.