Protect the Mhòine

Controversy has grown over plans for a Space Hub in Sutherland. Bella believes this is a disastrous idea that completely undermines the Scottish Governments claims to be committed to radical climate action.

“Protect the Mhòine, protect the planet! Oppose plans to build a space port on our precious peatlands by sending your objection to the council planning committee:

One of Scotland’s most important contributions to global fight against ecological and climate breakdown lies beneath the ground – in layers of peat that have been trapping carbon for thousands of years. The Flow Country in Caithness and Sutherland is the largest peatbog in Europe. It stores approximately 400 million tonnes of carbon – that’s more than double the amount of all of Britain’s woodlands! It is a rare and precious wildlife haven, and a potential UNESCO World Heritage site.

This February, the Space Hub Sutherland project submitted an application to the Highland Council for the development of a rocket launch facility over 800 acres of the Flow Country, on the A’Mhòine Peninsula. This would put the blanket bog’s fragile ecosystem at huge risk. When peat dries out, it stops trapping carbon and instead starts to emit it back out into the atmosphere. Degraded peat is highly flammable, as we saw in the Sutherland wildfire this summer, which raged for six days over 20,000 acres. Scientists estimated that the carbon released by the wildfire doubled Scotland’s emissions over those six days.

The Highland Council have declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency. Let’s send them the message that building a space port right on a uniquely precious ecosystem and massive carbon sink is not an emergency response! It is the planning committee’s responsibility to reject this application, and in so doing demonstrate the immeasurable value of Scotland’s peatlands.”

More details from Extinction Rebellion Scotland here.

Comments (14)

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  1. Richard Easson says:

    The same applies to the plans on North Uist.

  2. John Adams says:

    Isn’t there a perfectly good site with a waiting workforce at Doonreay

    1. Magnus Davidson says:

      The site at Dounreay won’t be ready to be built on as a brownfield site until at least 2330.

  3. Daniel Raphael says:

    Thanks for more worthy material to tweet.

  4. Susan Smith says:

    The area of the flow country is 4,000 square kilometres, the area of the proposed space port is 3 square km – around 0.075% . Hardly enough to “put the blanket bog’s fragile ecosystem at huge risk” or to reduce its carbon storage capacity very much at all.

    1. Al. says:

      Consider what actually happens at a “space port”.

  5. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    I would draw readers’ attention to a related Bella Caledonia article by George Gunn:

    ‘The Same Old Selfish Quest: FROM THE PROVINCE OF THE CAT’ (26 Nov 2919) –

    We would surely be naive to overlook a UK Government geo-unionist agenda unfolding in these matters, particularly apparent I would suggest in the announcement a week ago of big funding for a space centre in northern Shetland –

    ‘Shetland Space Centre gets £2 million boost from Leonne International: Private equity expert Michael Haston announces that his company Leonne International has provided a £2m boost for the Shetland Space Centre for its satellite launch programme’ (19 Feb 2020) —

    ‘Shetland Space Centre plans get £2m investment boost’ (19 February 2020) —

    Here is a Sutherland news link from 2018:

    ‘UK spaceport proposed for Sutherland site’ (16 July 2018) —

  6. Margaret Stewart says:

    It’s highly encouraging that you’ve used a Gaelic word for your campaign but there is a slight error in the spelling which alters the meaning and authenticity of the phrase. Rather than using the lenited form ‘mhòine’ in ‘Protect the Mhòine’ you need to alter it to ‘Protect the Mòine’ (Protect the peat) or ‘Protect the Mòinteach’ (Protect the peatland/moorland).

    I hope I have been of some help in this matter and please get back to me if you’d like to discuss it further.

    1. Thanks Margaret, the text was from Extinction Rebellion’s campaign – but we will fix it and pass on to them your advice.

      1. Anna (XR Scotland) says:

        Hi, it’s the name of the local campaign group. The peat bog on the peninsula (and the peninsula itself) is called the Moine (Beurla-cised!) or A’ Mhòine (Gàidhlig). I know the campaign group’s version is in a mix of English and Gaelic but it’s their campaign!

        1. Margaret Stewart says:

          Was just trying to help. It’s ok

          1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

            B’ fhiach an fheuchainn, a Mhairead…

  7. Robert Tateson says:

    We should support the A’Moine Space Port because of, not in spite of, the Climate Emergency. It will be launching small, trans-polar satellites which are particularly useful for gathering data to monitor future attempts to stabilise the Earth’s atmosphere and the effect on ice-caps, glaciers, crops, vegetation, forestry and wild-fire detection.

    However our support should be conditional on a large increase in specialised equipment and resources to fight wild-fires on the precious peat of the entire Flow Country – not just on the Moine Peninsular.

    The proposers should be forced to make a large financial contribution to this.

  8. Duncan Macniven says:

    The fires in Golspie were nothing to do with peat, rather they were the result of burning woodlands. The slopes of Beinn a’Bhragaidh are noted for many natural wonders, but not a lot of peat bog.
    It is worthy of note that the campaign to halt this potential development is generated by those who are not earning their living in North Sutherland, but live in places far from, or in one case, arrived there to retire in “pristine” wilderness which they wish to preserve in aspic.
    On the basis of their argument we must immediately cease all building works in this part of Scotland so that a few can enjoy this wilderness.
    It is worth noting the wilderness they crave is man made and not natural, as Sutherland was depopulated by forces from out side of it for the past several hundred years, and little has been done to change that.
    To seek to deny a development using spurious arguments about dried peat and wilderness is selfish and fraudulent.
    Sutherland needs jobs and inward investment, it does not need more selfish romantics gazing at its lunar landscapes, and scowling at its human population.

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