Before the Queen delivered her speech to parliament outlining the government’s legislative for the next two years, the spin-doctors were hard at work briefing the media about measures aimed at developing the UK aerospace industry.
This is what the speech actually said about space developments yesterday:
My government will work to attract investment in infrastructure to support economic growth. Legislation will be introduced to ensure the United Kingdom remains a world leader in new industries, including electric cars and commercial satellites. A new bill will also be brought forward to deliver the next phase of high-speed rail.
Interestingly, this seems to refer to encouraging private investment rather than direct government aid from public funds.
The Queen’s Speech only gives a very brief summary of what measures will be brought before parliament. To find out more, one must turn to the government’s briefing paper that accompanies the speech. This provides a little more detail and some clues about government’s thinking.
This is what the prime minister, Teresa May, says in here introduction:
Finally, this Government will do everything in our power to build a more united nation and strengthen our precious union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We will take seriously our responsibility to govern for the whole United Kingdom and will seek to work closely with the devolved administrations. We will also work with all of the parties in Northern Ireland to support the return of devolved government. The majority of the Bills in the programme will apply across the UK in full or in part. Amongst many other things, the contents of the programme will support the burgeoning aerospace industry in Wales, protect access to UK waters which are so important to Scottish fishermen and open new markets for key exporting industries in Northern Ireland.
And this is how the bill is described:
Space Industry Bill
The UK has one of the largest aerospace industries in the world and has pioneered new technology for modern satellites. The Bill will:
- create new powers to license a wide range of new commercial spaceflight, including vertically-launched rockets, spaceplanes, satellite operation, spaceports and other technologies;
- create a regulatory framework to manage risk, ensuring that commercial spaceflight in the UK remains safe.
Protect Llanbedr has been unable to discover the fate of the Draft Space Flight Bill that was published during the last parliament. This contained draconian powers to acquire land around spaceport sites. There are major concerns that, in the event of Llanbedr Airfield becoming a spaceport, these could be used to close down existing businesses that are major employers in the area because they are in the way. If anyone knows whether the Space Industry Bill is the Space Flight Bill under a different name, a revised version of that bill, or additional legislation, do please leave a comment.