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National Space Security Policy

Volume 579: debated on Wednesday 30 April 2014

Together with my right hon. Friend, the Minister for Europe and NATO, and my hon. Friends, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr Dunne) who is responsible for defence equipment, support and technology and the Minister for Security and Immigration, I am today publishing the Government’s first ever national space security policy. I have placed a copies in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government acknowledge that there is a continuing opportunity for strong economic growth in the UK space sector and that with annual growth rates averaging over 7.5% in recent years it is essential to recognise that for the space sector, growth and security must be viewed as mutually reinforcing principles which should be supported by national policy. The Government recognise that the space sector, as well as being a high-growth sector in its own right, provides via satellites vital services for other sections of our economy. The national space security policy sets out how we will work to sustain access to these services, with adequate resilience against threats and hazards. The policy reinforces the national security strategy, which identifies severe disruption to information received, collected or transmitted by satellites as a tier 2 risk to the United Kingdom and meets a commitment in the strategic defence and security review to address this.

The national space security policy takes a broad approach to the United Kingdom’s space security interests, underpinning our prosperity, well-being and national security, and is based on four objectives. These are to:

make the United Kingdom more resilient to risks to space services and capabilities, and British infrastructure less vulnerable to space weather;

enhance the United Kingdom’s national security interests through space;

promote a safe and more secure space environment; and

enable industry and science to grasp commercial and academic opportunities in support of national security interests.

The Government remain determined to promote the commercial and scientific benefits while ensuring the United Kingdom is a safe and secure place in which to pursue these. This includes work to promote awareness of space dependencies—for example, in highly automated distribution networks and control centres, precise navigation and timing systems and weather forecasting. The policy also sets out how we intend to monitor and prepare against threats and hazards which might harm these interests, and our wider national security. It identifies potential threats from state-sponsored and criminal attacks against satellite capabilities and services, and hazards such as severe solar storms and growing debris in space and how these might be prevented or the impact mitigated.

Central themes in our policy response are stronger coherence at home—across Government and in partnership with industry and science—and continuing co-operation internationally with our allies and space-faring partners.

Through the national space security policy, the Government will foster a closer space security partnership with industry and science that would allow more pooling of space security expertise and better sharing of information on space security risks, and on ways and opportunities to mitigate these. We recognise that maintaining and enhancing co-operation with our international partners is also fundamental to our space security objectives. We will sustain co-operation with the United States, as our pre-eminent national security partner, maintaining capabilities and assets which bring mutual benefit to a relationship that greatly enhances our space security interests. We will work closely with France and other key European partners such as Germany, including in ensuring that European space programmes and future opportunities for collaboration move forward on a sound security footing. We will continue to promote transparency and confidence-building measures at the United Nations, and through an international space code of conduct to which all states would benefit in subscribing.

Implementation of the policy will be overseen by an ad hoc ministerial-led steering group, which will report on progress through the National Security Council.