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Campaigners stage action outside spaceport meeting

Campaigners stage action outside spaceport meeting

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 4:02pm 22nd January 2020. (Updated at 12:37pm 23rd January 2020)

Campaigners having been staging action outside a Spaceport Cornwall meeting, on the first anniversary of the 'climate emergency' declared by Cornwall Council.

Protesters have been handing out trees and plants at Kresen Kernow in Redruth as they call for a 'positive change' to cut our carbon emissions.

People were also given stickers saying 'earth not space' and flyers explaining why there are strong objections to the spaceport project.

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.

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 the campaign group claims that the spaceport will increase carbon emissions and waste millions, at a time when the council should be 'spending money on projects that directly help local people and drastically reduce carbon emissions'.

One protestor said it felt like 'some kind of sick joke' for the spaceport team to hold a tea and talk event on the anniversary of the declaration of emergency.

In January 2019, Cornwall Council called on Westminster to provide the powers and resources necessary to achieve the target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Virgin Orbit spaceport satellites

"Last January the Council showed leadership by declaring a climate emergency, and today we are marking the anniversary of this declaration by giving people trees.  

"Scientists around the world have told us we only have 11 years left to avert the worst effects of global warming and we have already seen devastating fires in Australia and floods in Indonesia that have wreaked havoc on the planet. 

"The environmental impact of a spaceport and airport expansion is a huge step backwards at a time when the council's own climate emergency action plan says that emissions from aviation must be reduced'. 

"This project is wasting £12 million on airport expansion at a time when people are wanting to cut back their carbon emissions and reduce flying. 

"Flybe and the airport are failing business models and are being artificially propped up by government and council subsidies; and Cornish tax payers are the ones that are paying for it. 

"We urge the council to take a stand and stick by the promises they made a year ago to cut aviation emissions by removing the funding from Virgin, particularly in light of the fact that no test launch has been achieved and the true cost and environmental impact of the project is still not known."

Nichola Andersen, climate change campaigner

spaceport - virgin orbit

Nichola added that by expanding the airport the council has 'directly contradicted their own declaration of a climate emergency' and 'added an extra carbon burden to the county and to each and every individual in it'.

But officials say a study being carried out by the University of Exeter will inform a carbon offset strategy for Spaceport Cornwall which includes £50,000 for planting trees as part of a proposed Forest for Cornwall, which Cornwall Council outlined in its Climate Emergency Action Plan last year.

The aim is to ensure that any carbon emissions from a spaceport are more than offset.

They added that in time, satellite launch operators such as Virgin Orbit will be required to meet the carbon costs of operations through their launch fees, in line with the Council’s vision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

You can read the further response from Cornwall Council here.

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