A consultation that’s out of this world
Governments consult on an enormous range of things, over a wide geographical scope- now it seems they are thinking even bigger. In 2018, the new Space Industry Act received Royal Assent, providing a framework for the regulation of space activities carried out from the UK, as a counterpart to the older Outer Space Act 1986 which regulates activities carried out by UK entities abroad.
The Government is now consulting on the draft regulations and guidance that will put flesh on the bones of the regulatory regime and allow operators, amongst other things, to operate a spaceport and carry out spaceflight activities. In addition, the proposals would transfer regulatory responsibilities from the UK Space Agency to the Civil Aviation Authority. The UK space industry brings in over £15bn a year for the UK economy and represents more than 5% of the global space economy, and it is hoped that the new regulatory framework will support continued growth to at least 10% of the global space economy.
The Government consultation is not the only space-related consultation we have seen lately with plans proceeding apace for two spaceports in Scotland (one of which was, in June, given approval by Highland Councillors), and another in Cornwall. The expansion of the industry is opening up new frontiers for consultation and new difficulties in properly addressing unique issues not found in any other project. It will be interesting to see how consultors communicate tricky issues – in this case it is after all, rocket science!