Skip to main content

Spaceflight Regulator: Environmental Objectives

Volume 698: debated on Monday 28 June 2021

On Friday 25 June, I published the Government’s response to the consultation on environmental objectives and guidance that the Government are setting for the regulator when exercising its spaceflight functions under the Space Industry Act 2018.

This Government are committed to growing the space industry in the UK and cementing our leading role in this sector by unlocking a new era in commercial spaceflight across the UK. The Government’s ambitious support for safe and sustainable spaceflight activities will drive research, innovation and entrepreneurship, exploiting the unique environment of space. The environmental objectives and guidance, along with the space industry regulations, and other instruments covering accident investigation and appeals, will pave the way for a new licensing regime for commercial spaceflight activities from UK. This will feed into our emerging national space strategy as we develop our priorities for levelling up the UK and promote the growth of this thriving sector in the long term.

The environmental objectives demonstrate the importance this Government attach to balancing the mitigation of potentially negative environmental impacts of spaceflight activities with enhancing the strong contributions that commercial spaceflight can make to both the economy and our local and global efforts to monitor the environment. The objectives and guidance build on the Space Industry Act 2018 requirements for applicants for a launch or spaceport licence to submit an assessment of environmental effects as part of their application. The objectives and guidance set out clearly how the Government expect the spaceflight regulator will take account of these assessments when deciding licence applications and setting licence conditions.

The Government welcome the thoughtful and detailed responses received to the consultation from industry, environmental professional bodies and other stakeholders. The response I am sharing today sets out the ways we have adjusted the draft guidance to reflect the suggestions and recommendations made through the consultation process. We believe that this collaborative approach will not only strengthen the licensing regime we are implementing, but also demonstrate the Government’s ongoing commitment to growing this exciting sector whilst ensuring that the most significant environmental impacts are mitigated and that growth of this sector is consistent with the Government’s wider sustainable development goals.

Next steps

My Department has worked closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK Space Agency and Civil Aviation Authority to legislate for a wide range of new commercial spaceflight technologies, including traditional vertically launched vehicles, air-launched vehicles and sub-orbital spaceplanes and balloons. The Government’s aim is to have in place all the necessary secondary legislation and supporting guidance before the summer recess to enable the regulator to begin receiving and assessing applications.