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Wealthy environmentalist picks his preferred UK spaceport

Capitalism in space: A wealthy businessman who is also involved in environmental causes has invested almost 1.5 million pounds in the proposed spaceport planned for the Shetland Islands, the northernmost British islands.

What makes this investment especially interesting is this same environmentalist’s opposition to a different spaceport proposed for Sutherland, Scotland.

Danish businessman Mr Povlsen, who is reportedly worth £4.5bn thanks to his Bestseller clothes retail empire, and his wife own thousands of acres of land in Sutherland, and on other estates in the Highlands. [Their company] Wildland Ltd has raised concerns about Space Hub Sutherland’s impact on the Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area, and has sought a judicial review of Highland Council’s permission for the satellite launch project.

Another of the Povlsens’ companies, Wildland Ventures Ltd, has invested in Shetland Space Centre.

This apparently is the ultimate in NIMBY (not in my backyard!). It seems this couple is throwing its weight behind the Shetland site in order to help keep the Sutherland site (in their backyard) from being built.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • wayne

    some tidbits on this guy. (can’t vouch for accuracy, it’s the internet and all…)

    “The couple started buying land in 2006 and now own about 220,000 acres across 12 estates.”
    –>>”Three of their four children – Alfred, five, Agnes, 12, and Alma, 15 – were killed in the bombing attacks in Sri Lanka which claimed more than 250 lives.”
    “The Duke of Buccleuch is the most prominent of Scotland’s traditional big landowners, owning about 200,000 acres, mostly in the south of Scotland.”
    “The billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has also been busy snapping up about 63,000 acres of Scottish land.”
    “…..the country’s biggest landowner however remains the government agencies and public bodies that manage huge areas of land on behalf of the nation.”
    “The Povlsens’ extensive Scottish land and property empire is good news for the Danish public purse, as Danes pay tax on all the land they own – regardless of where it is.”

  • janyuary

    Well, it seems like a reasonable solution. Though there may be other possibilities, such as it being a convenient front for some other finance strategy. I like capitalism because at its best, everyone comes away with something good. The spaceport gets built, the guy gets to keep his ol’ peat mogs or whatever (maybe pretty good whisky), and everybody’s happy.

  • Lee Stevenson

    Hmmmmmm…. Definitely something fishy going on here…. And I don’t just mean the shoreline!! Unfortunately I’m about to start a week of 12 hour shifts, so I have no chance to do a deep dive into this… But I’m sure there is dirt to be dug here…..

  • Bob Ryan

    So he has actively started a legal process to stop the other spaceport in his back yard while investing in the competitor?

    Hard to believe that is not relevant to the legal process, the motivation there cannot be pure if he has a financial stake elsewhere. Blatant strong arm tactics. He may have shot himself in the foot.

    All that hand-waving about being environmentally conscious is exposed as bluster when you pull a stunt like this.

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