Inverness Solicitors Reflect on Spaceport Success

Scottish law firm Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP (WJM) is reflecting on its involvement with Sutherland Spaceport as the project moves into its next phase, after advising landowners Melness Crofters’ Estate on the historic deal.

WJM’s team of Inverness-based advisers, led by Partners John Smart and Paul Adams, has worked with the organisation, which is run by a voluntary group of directors, over the last four years to oversee and facilitate agreements with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), who now leases the site and will oversee the development of the Spaceport.

Space Hub Sutherland is set to be the UK mainland’s first vertical launch site for satellites, and the project is set to create up to 40 new jobs in the local area. 

John Smart said: “This has been a truly fantastic project to be involved in. We’ve worked closely with Melness Crofters’ Estate since 2018 and it’s great to see the project now coming to fruition.  The Spaceport is the first site of its kind in the UK, so we’re incredibly proud to have been involved in something so historic, but more importantly, something that is going to have such a positive impact on the local area.

“As a community organisation, MCE has a very clear vision, which is to ensure the good husbandry of the land and to encourage job creation in the region, and Space Hub Sutherland is a perfect example of this.  This cause is close to the WJM team’s heart as well. 

“As a national firm which has been active in the Highlands for the last decade and has expanded its operations there significantly in this time, we fully recognise the importance of creating high-quality employment and professional opportunities in the local area.  Too often, young people in the Highlands go elsewhere to seek employment as they simply don’t have the opportunities here, so the Spaceport and all the jobs it will bring is really encouraging.”

HIE recently announced the appointment of Orbex, a UK based orbital launch services company based in Forres, to lead the construction and operation of the new facility.

Paul Adams added: “As well as our vast experience in complex land transactions, our Inverness team has a solid understanding of the local area, and that proximity to and knowledge of the Highlands communities has really helped throughout this project.”

WJM’s Inverness office first opened in 2011, and has since grown from just one solicitor, Angus MacLeod, to a team of 21, including five Partners who specialise in a wide range of legal services and work with clients such as Gordon & MacPhail and Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club.

Dorothy Pritchard, Director and Chair at Melness Crofters’ Estate, said: “It has been a huge team effort to make Sutherland Spaceport a reality and Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie has played an integral part in bringing this major development to fruition. The team’s wise counsel and diligence over the last five years has been truly invaluable in what has been a complex legal process.”

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