Local campaigners are urging Scotland’s biggest landowner to drop his objections to the planned spaceport in Sutherland.
They hope that Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen will drop his opposition to the £13.2 million project at Melness, despite his having described it as “deeply damaging.”
The proposal for what would be the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport has already prompted 750 comments to Highland Council’s planning department.
The Space Port United Residents Group claim that the overwhelming majority of residents support the project.
In a letter to the Council group founder Scott Coghill wrote: “We want this to happen and after Covid we will need all the work we can create especially if it is not reliant on tourism or Mr Povlsen.
The group’s petition has attracted 520 signatures.
It reads: “I have started this petition because this is extremely important for the future of the area.
“We have a massive problem with depopulation in Sutherland and Caithness.
“The real difficulty lies with lack of full-time, non-seasonal jobs to keep the young in the north.
“The prospect of up to 40 jobs created by the spaceport will be fantastic, especially if it attracts young professionals with families.
“It will also give autonomy to the local area with money to spend as we wish – projects we would never be able to afford as things stand now, unless it was on Wildland’s agenda.”
Objectors to the plan include another local group Protect The Mhoine and government wildlife advisor Scottish Natural Heritage, which has submitted a holding objection.
It is seeking further clarity on potential damage to the habitat and wildlife.
RSPB has objected warning the spaceport is a threat to various bird species including the greenshank, dunlin, golden plover and red-throated divers.
The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland has also called for the application, and others for spaceports planned for Unst on Shetland and the Uists in the Outer Hebrides, to be called in.
Anne and Anders Hoch Povlsen’s Wildland Estates business said: “We have grave concerns about the environmental impact of the proposed space hub, which has been echoed by objections from SNH, the RSPB and others.”