Spaceport legislation in Queen’s Speech 2

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.

The Queen’s Speech, 21/06/2017

 

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. Continue reading “Spaceport legislation in Queen’s Speech 2”

Spaceport legislation in Queen’s Speech 1

 

Suddenly, news feeds are full of stories about space flight and spaceports:

Queen’s Speech: Government to announce plans for commercial space flights and ports for spaceships

The Independent Online, 20th June 2017

ON THE HORIZON: Space travel set to take off as Government unveils plans to build ‘rocket ports’ around the country in the Queen’s Speech

The Sun, 19th June 2017

 

It seems strange that a government that has lost its majority, and whose real concerns are unlikely to extend far beyond Brexit legislation and staying in power, should be giving space flight priority. So are we just seeing an attempt by the Number 10 spin doctors to break into a constant stream of damaging stories with something that sounds upbeat, progressive, and really, really, optimistic? Just what the PM’s image needs! Don’t say we are going back to the days when the political agenda was set by ‘eye-catching initiatives’ that a desperate leader could be associated with.

Even if the proposed legislation puts the regulatory framework for spaceports in place, where will funding for this new industry rank against the demands of the NHS, the police, social care, schools and a hundred other public services during a period of austerity? Only time will tell.

What is certain is that our political representatives, at all levels, need to start consulting locals about the real impact of a spaceport being built here, because this is a decision that will be taken a very long way from Llanbedr and local interests will need all the support they can get.

Bypass consultation NOT!

As previously mentioned here, Gwynedd Council claims that they are carrying out a public consultation about their plans for a bypass. This is a statutory requirement prior to making a planning application for a major project and for the first time all the relevant documents are available for inspection, but only on the internet.


The question is whether this is a consultation at all. To begin with, Gwynedd Council refer to their project as the ‘A496 Llanbedr Access Improvement Scheme’, which does not describe the proposal accurately. The plan is, and always has been, to build a bypass. Far from improving access to Llanbedr with all that it has to offer, this will divert traffic away from the village. It cannot possibly be described as improving access to Llanbedr, and how can you claim that you are undertaking a consultation when you don’t even describe what you are doing properly?

But that’s not all. Surely for a consultation to be anything more than a sham, you have to make sure that the people who will be affected by the proposed scheme know that there is a consultation taking place, so that they can make any representations they wish? In this case that would be every one who lives in the Llanbedr Community Council area as a bare minimum. Continue reading “Bypass consultation NOT!”

Bypass FAQs

(This is quite a long read, but if you are willing to consider a well written and researched case against building a bypass,  then you will find it worthwhile. The author refutes many of the partisan claims made by  Gwynedd Council and also by Llanbedr Community Council, a body intended to represent all shades of opinion in the community fairly.)

Q1:           Isn’t a bypass necessary for development at the airfield?

A1:               Absolutely not.

The Economic Impact Report commissioned by Gwynedd Council from Wavehill Consultants of Aberaeron gives three scenarios for development at the airfield.

  1. Development to continue as it has done for the last 5 years since the enterprise zone was established.
  2. Research and development into unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for which planning permission already exists
  3. Development of a spaceport.

The Report concludesthis study has found that the direct economic impact of proposed roadworks in and around Llanbedr to improve access to the nearby airfield as a stand-alone intervention is limited.” It also concludes that a spaceport would not be viable without road access improvements but other developments at the airfield could happen without the improvements.

However even a spaceport does not require a bypass. A simple access road from the A496 between Llanbedr and Dyffryn Ardudwy will provide a more secure and safer access to the airfield which would avoid heavy vehicles having to turn into Mochras Road.

Together with improvements to parking in the village, the provision of a footbridge and walkways and other traffic measures this would solve allof the named issues. However despite looking at a total of 23 of their own “options”, this option was not even considered by Gwynedd Council despite it being pointed out to them on many occasions. Continue reading “Bypass FAQs”

Pennies from Cardiff

According to a BBC news story, the Wales Audit Office has rapped the Welsh Government’s knuckles for being just a bit too casual about public funds made available to the company behind the proposed Circuit of Wales motorcycle race track project at Ebbw Vale.

As much as £9.3m seems to have vanished like snow in August without much by way of due diligence on the part of Ken Skates’ Economy and Infrastructure ministry. He’s the cheerful chappy who echoed his predecessor Edwina Hart’s refusal to confirm that Gwynedd Council had complied with Welsh Government guidelines on consultation while planning the Llanbedr bypass.

Given that according to the Beeb, the Welsh Government’s only response to what appears to be a very detailed and utterly damning report by the Auditor is to say that it is “disappointed”,  one might wonder what hope there is for proper oversight of developments at Llanbedr.

Read all about it here:

Circuit of Wales: ‘Flawed’ decisions on public funding

Afterthought: The Auditor may be on the case this time, but two letters to his office asking if he can legitimately sign off government expenditure on the Llanbedr bypass when Gwynedd Council’s consultants have failed to comply with Ken Skates own departments guidelines on public consultation have been ignored. And those guidelines are supposed to apply to  all transport projects promoted or funded by WAG.

Maybe the auditor prefers to wait until money has been misspent before he acts.

Llanbedr Spaceport approved?

Blogs get sent stuff, and you have to make up your own mind what to believe. Here’s a pretty good example:

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LLANBEDR AIRFIELD GETS APPROVAL AS A NEW SPACEPORT

It has been announced that the UK Government has decided that the country’s first spaceport shall be licenced at Llanbedr in Gwynedd.

However because of its location in a protected National Park some conditions have been attached to the licence.

  1. To ensure that the peace of the National Park is preserved, which is a legal requirement, all space flights shall be powered entirely by electricity. In order to provide adequate supplies of electricity the Government has also announced that a new nuclear reactor will be built at the former Magnox reactor site at Trawsfynydd and the two sites, which together form the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, will be linked by an underground tunnel carrying the cables.
  2. The operators of the spaceport shall not be permitted to enter land currently used as holiday centres at Shell Island and Dyffryn Ardudwy. In addition because of the potential for a spacecraft to fail on take-off, all persons at these centres shall be issued with free hard hats and told to stay in their tents or caravans during launches. This is a belt and braces approach as it is expected that only 1 in 10 space flights will fail and break up. As an extra precaution the Government has contracted the head of North Korea’s rocket programme as an adviser as he has recent experience of failed take-offs and can recommend suitable counter-measures.
  3. To ensure jobs created are taken by locals the working language at the spaceport shall be Welsh and no other language shall be allowed to be used on site.
  4. Before each flight the operators shall clear the sky of all bats and birds to a height of 1 mile and a radius of 5 miles. No creature shall be harmed.

Speaking at the Assembly in Cardiff, the First Minister is reported to have said that these conditions make him look stupid for suggesting Llanbedr as a suitable location for a spaceport and that his preferred option is to scrap the National Park altogether. The local MP, AM and County Councillor all agreed. The Community Council remained silent so as not to upset anyone.

Speaking in Washington DC the US president is reported to have said that any potential launch site is a threat to the USA and he will take military action if necessary to close the site down.

Meanwhile the Foreign Secretary is reported to be planning which European cities could be under the flight path from Llanbedr.

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