Satellites to Sutherland-not quite coals to Newcastle!

Mike Danson, Janette Wyper, Geoffrey Whittam

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


If economic development is to take place in rural areas, what kind of economic development is desirable? The UK Spaceport is to be located on the Melness Crofting Estate in Sutherland, North West Scotland. Sutherland is recognised as being one of the most sparsely populated regions in Europe and four of Scotland’s 40 National Scenic Areas are located in Sutherland. It has suffered years of population decline beginning with the Highland clearances in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and continuing with the decline of traditional economic sectors such as fishing and farming. The announcement of the construction of the Sutherland space port (SSP) promises to reverse this long-term deterioration through the creation of jobs. However, this narrative can be challenged on the grounds that: the new jobs accessible to locals will be low quality, the damage caused by the construction and operation of the SSP will lead to the further destruction of this Highland ‘wild land’, and in turn this will reduce the opportunity for other more appropriate entrepreneurial ventures; in fact the spaceport will lead to ‘destructive entrepreneurship’ (Baumol). Document analysis and interviews with members of the Melness Crofting Community, local entrepreneurs, key informants and members of the wider community are used to explore the opportunities for job and income creation, and the conflicts with sustainable development potentials.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Sustainable development, spaceport, remote rural, destructive entrepreneurship


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