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Climate protest staged at meeting for Spaceport Cornwall

Climate protest staged at meeting for Spaceport Cornwall

Published by Emma Carton at 10:46am 26th November 2019.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse

Environmental campaigners were protesting outside County Hall this morning in a bid to convince councillors to reject funding Spaceport Cornwall.

Members of the public, including members of Extinction Rebellion, were aiming to get councillors' attention as they entered County Hall ahead of today’s crunch meeting.

The full council will be asked to approve a recommendation from Cabinet to provide £10.3 million of funding towards Spaceport Cornwall.

Protest at Spaceport Cornwall Meeting


Spaceport Cornwall, which will be based at Cornwall Airport Newquay, would be the UK's first horizontal launch spaceport used to launch small satellites into space.

Virgin Orbit has an agreement with the council to operate from Spaceport Cornwall using its LauncherOne system and is aiming to have its first launch in Cornwall in 2021.

The money from the council would be part of a funding package which also includes money from the UK Space Agency, Virgin Orbit and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

But campaigners say that supporting the spaceport would be contradictory to the council’s decision in January to declare a climate emergency.

Protest at Spaceport Cornwall Meeting


The protest this morning saw members of the Extinction Rebellion Red Rebels dressed in their striking red costumes and white facepaint as well as a model of a rocket crashed nosefirst into the council car park.

Protesters said the rocket was to indicate that Virgin Orbit has not yet been able to complete a full test of the satellite launch system that it hopes to use in Cornwall:

"The council has shown leadership by declaring an emergency but they have not followed it through with their actions - this is the first test of their resolve and they have failed by agreeing to support a vanity project for multi-billionaire Richard Branson. 

"This funding expands the airport and increases our carbon emissions at a time when we need to be spending money on things like transport and energy to help the people of Cornwall reduce emissions".

Protestor, Nichola Andersen

Protest at Spaceport Cornwall Meeting


Jackie Dash, from Truro, who was taking part in the protest this morning said she was concerned that councillors were not listening to the concerns of the public.

And she said the public had not been made fully aware of the facts around the project.

She said the money earmarked for the spaceport would be better spent on vital services in Cornwall. She urged councillors to reject the plans.

Ahead of the meeting there was a suggestion that councillors may move to postpone the debate and decision until the new year.

This was suggested so that more information could be gathered about the concerns raised by the public but also amid concerns about conflict with the current general election campaign.

At the launch of the Conservative manifesto on Sunday Boris Johnson mentioned Spaceport Cornwall and it is thought that some Conservative councillors at County Hall are not in favour of the project.

The full council meeting was due to start at 10.30am this morning (Tuesday November 26th).

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