The design contract covers architectural services, mechanical and electrical engineering, civil engineering and landscape architecture. Architect Norr’s Glasgow studio to lead the project, with support from its Inverness studio which has previously worked with HIE in similar rural locations. The team also includes Arup Engineers and ERZ landscape architects.
Designs for the facility will submitted for planning consent later this year with the aim of construction starting next year.
The proposed site is next to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Scenic Area. It also sits on the area’s internationally recognised blanket bog ecosystem. The flora, fauna and scenery will need to be taken into account as part of the spaceport’s design and construction.
Several consultations and site studies and surveys have already been carried out and further surveys will be required to support the planning process. They include drainage, archaeological, traffic, visual impact, air quality and acoustic assessments.
Space Hub Sutherland project director Roy Kirk said: “This is a key step in the development of Space Hub Sutherland. This is a high profile, complex and innovative project that we expect to generate many social and economic benefits for different parts of the region, including around 400 new well-paid skilled jobs.
“We are delighted to have Norr and Arup Engineers onboard and look forward to working with them and the wider project management team in taking the project forward.”
Kevin Stephen, lead architect for Norr, said: “The Space Hub project is exciting, as well as complex and sensitive. The integration of a vertical small satellite launch facility, with associated infrastructure into this rural and naturally significant site, presents many interesting challenges for us; the sort of challenge we thrive on. We look forward to getting started.”
HIE is also working to secure a commercial operator for the space hub, with an announcement of a preferred bidder expected in the next few months.