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Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021

Volume 813: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2021

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021.

Relevant document: 4th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

My Lords, these regulations relating to the space industry are made under the powers conferred by the Space Industry Act 2018, which I will call the SIA. The contracting-out order is made under the powers conferred by the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. There are four draft instruments before the Committee, each addressing a different aspect of the legal regime required to regulate commercial spaceflight from the UK. These instruments will apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as space is a reserved matter.

Regulatory functions for satellite licensing under the Outer Space Act 1986 are currently undertaken by the UK Space Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State, but because the space agency is also responsible for administering grants to stimulate market growth, in June 2020 the Secretary of State directed that those activities under the Outer Space Act 1986 and all activities under the SIA should be regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority, the CAA. This is to avoid a potential conflict of interest for the UK Space Agency and follows the policy of successive Governments to separate safety regulation from sector promotion following the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster. To enact this direction, the contracting-out order will authorise the CAA to carry out regulatory and licensing activities under the Outer Space Act 1986 on the Secretary of State’s behalf, in addition to its responsibilities under the SIA.

An additional instrument will follow, using the negative resolution procedure. This is an employment relations SI that will enable the transfer of staff from the UK Space Agency to the CAA.

The CAA is a seasoned regulator with over 40 years’ experience regulating aerodromes, aircraft, security, the environment and the use of airspace. With its expertise and strong international reputation, the CAA has been a partner in the development of the Space Industry Regulations from the outset. Once stood up as the regulator, the CAA can begin accepting licence applications for spaceflight activities.

The CAA cannot yet commit to a precise timeframe for granting licences, especially for initial applications, but it is expected that applications will initially take between six and 12 months to process. Of course, as the industry develops and the regulator grows its expertise, this timeframe will reduce. The regulator will be in contact with applicants at every step so that this timing will not impede industry’s ambitions. I am aware that other spacefaring nations, such as the US, have shorter stated application times of, for example, 180 days. It should be noted, however, that this excludes the pre-application period, which can be two to five years ahead of any application being submitted.

The Space Industry Regulations are a result of a collaboration across government, building on existing space and aviation legislation and harnessing a range of regulatory, technical and legal expertise. The Department for Transport, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK Space Agency and the CAA have worked together closely, with the support of the Health and Safety Executive and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, to develop these regulations.

The Space Industry Regulations make provisions to enable the licensing and regulation of spaceflight activities, the establishment of spaceports and the licensing of range-control service providers in the UK. These regulations are designed to enable UK launches from 2022 and will promote growth, innovation and sustainability while protecting public safety, security and the UK’s international relations.

The Space Industry Regulations provide transparency to prospective licence holders and wider stakeholders on the outcomes that are expected of licence holders, facilitating consistency, fairness and proper decision-making by the regulator. These regulations are augmented by detailed and practical guidance documents and the regulator’s licensing rules.

The regulations include provisions regarding eligibility, risk, training, security, debris mitigation, and insurance and liabilities. Insurance and liabilities were one of the key issues raised in your Lordships’ House and by industry stakeholders during the passage of the SIA, with key concerns about unlimited liability and the availability and cost of insurance to cover such unlimited liability. The Government have listened to these concerns and taken action to limit operator liability in all operator licences. Their policy intention is that all operator licences issued under the SIA will contain a limit of operator liability with respect to claims made under Sections 34 and 36 of the Act. Operators will therefore not face unlimited liability for actions carried out in compliance with the Act and licence conditions. The regulations contain the necessary provisions to implement this policy.

In line with the statutory guidance requirements of the SIA, the guidance material sets out the form and content of an assessment of environmental effects—an AEE—which is required to be submitted with every spaceport and launch operator licence application.

In order to ensure that accidents are investigated by a body independent of the CAA, the Spaceflight Activities (Investigation of Spaceflight Accidents) Regulations 2021 establish the space accident investigation authority and make provisions for how accident investigations will be carried out. Building on the long- established principles used to investigate aircraft accidents, these regulations are necessary to ensure that lessons are learned, safety is improved and further accidents are prevented.

The Space Industry (Appeals) Regulations 2021 add to the provisions in the SIA relating to appeals by specifying which decisions under the Space Industry Regulations are appealable. These regulations set out how a panel will be established and the process which the appeal panel and the parties to the appeal are to follow. They also set out the process that should be followed by the parties to the appeal, right from the initial application for permission to appeal all the way through to the decision that may be taken by the panel and the consequences for the parties.

To conclude, these regulations are a modern legal and regulatory framework that will enable the UK to launch commercial space flights. They create the conditions for accessing space from the UK, and, as I am sure that all noble Lords will agree, they will give us the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the UK space sector and demonstrate the UK’s maturity as a spacefaring nation.

My Lords, I welcome the appearance on the Order Paper of these SIs as yet another clear signal that the Government are serious in their intent that Britain should be a leading player in the space sector, an ambition that I support. I do so with an important caveat: I question whether the SI procedure is fit for purpose in handling parliamentary oversight of this kind of legislation.

In a billet-doux the Minister sent to Members of the Committee a few days ago, she told us that she had mastered a 100-page brief in preparation for today’s session. We have before us four pieces of secondary legislation, which, with the Explanatory Memoranda, run to more than 200 pages. This debate is scheduled for one hour, and our interventions are limited to seven minutes. I will put a question that is above the pay grades of all of us here: is there not a case for legislation of this complexity to be handled by a Standing Committee of both Houses, which would be able to give full and informed consideration to the important issues before us today?

Space is indeed a new frontier and, as such, we will need to address a number of audiences and a number of concerns simultaneously if we are to go forward with confidence. That being so, is it realistic that this launch programme will be a reality by the Government’s target date of 2022—next year—which the Minister repeated again today? The amount of logistics, manpower and know-how required to launch a rocket simply does not happen overnight. There are still half a dozen spaceports under consideration. When will the first of these be operational?

The answer to that is contained in a positive Rubik’s cube of decision-making contained in these SIs, but it is all summed up in one word: “confidence”. We have to give the general public confidence that this space adventure is safe, both physically and environmentally. I remember the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, reminding us in an earlier debate that rockets are “controlled explosions”. The public will need to be confident that the CAA has the new expertise and the extra resources to carry out the oversight required to ensure that these operations are safe.

We have already seen how HS2 attracts opposition on environmental grounds. I recently saw a TV programme reporting from the highlands of Scotland, expressing concerns about how spaceport development would impact on areas of unique habitat and outstanding natural beauty. By their very nature, the spaceports are likely to be in such locations. It must be said, though, that in the locations already announced, other voices are arguing that the space industry offers the best prospect of attracting high-quality investment and jobs to those areas.

The Minister mentioned another part of the Rubik’s cube, which is sustaining investor confidence. I listened with care to what she had to say about insurance and liability for the investors and companies involved. Before the debate, I asked one such company about this and was told that it had put forward specific ideas to the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, calling for amendments to the Space Industry Act 2018 to give it the assurances it is looking for. In the meantime, if changes to Section 36 of the Act are not possible in the short term, guidance should make it clear that all granted licences will provide for a cap on liability. As I said, I will study carefully what the Minister said and see what the sector’s reaction will be as to whether the reassurances she has given are sufficient for it to attract the very large investment it will need.

Safety, security, environment and insurance are all live issues as we move forward. I understand that New Zealand, another island nation at a similar latitude away from the equator as ourselves, is already operational, with a small satellite capability in partnership with an American company, Rocket Lab. Have we had any exchanges with New Zealand about its experience of regulating in this area?

New technology is reducing the cost of access to space and demand is growing. This offers a huge opportunity to the UK as we already have a thriving space sector. I hope that we can look again at how we keep this fast-moving situation under proper parliamentary scrutiny. I look forward to us taking forward a project that will bring with it a wide range of benefits in related services and sustain our position as a leading space nation in the world.

My Lords, look at the sheer vastness of what is before us, all to regulate space. The clue is in the name: space is largely empty; that is why we call it space. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, counted more than 200 pages. When I put all four of these SIs together, I counted more than 500 pages, 90% of them to do with the powers of the regulators in extreme and precise detail: the appeals procedure, the make-up of the arbitration panels and all the rest of it. Do we really need this kind of prescriptive law to regulate the vastnesses of what Cardinal Newman called the “sidereal firmament”? Sure, you need some rules and agreements among countries. As we began to sail the high seas, we developed maritime laws and the law of the sea as we went along. A similar process should pertain as we sail the wide seas of space, but in this manner, with this level of detailed prescription, we are asking for unintended consequences.

Noble Lords may say, “Well, what if something goes wrong? What if there’s a crash and we need to work out what the insurance would be and who would be liable if a bit of satellite fell on some other country? We must have some regulatory framework”, but here is the thing: our common-law system is remarkably good at adapting to new technologies and hitherto unencountered situations. In fact, almost every new technology was accommodated in our growing legal system by the application of general principles, for example the general principle that, if you have a dangerous thing in your possession, there is a responsibility on you to keep it leashed. When mining began for the first time, like space exploration now, it was a situation not previously encountered by people who had to determine liability and responsibility—yet we coped.

I want briefly to quote Rylands v Fletcher, a case from 1868. Water from the defendant’s reservoir had flooded the mine shafts of the plaintiff. The judge—rather brilliantly, I think—said:

“We think that the true rule of law is, that the person who for his own purposes brings on his land and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it at his peril, and, if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape.”

Those are the general principles that should govern satellites and the charting of space.

Regulators are constantly playing catch-up. They will never be as smart as the innovators. Governments will always be rushing to keep up, asking things such as, “How do we regulate clean meat, GM foods, 3D printing or AI?” or whatever the latest thing is. In doing so, they almost always get it wrong because they cannot foresee the situations that the innovators in the private sector are already dealing with. That is why this volume of precise, Civil Service-written regulation—I must say, I have not been here long but I can tell the difference between stuff that Ministers have decreed and stuff that the bureaucracy is just churning out regardless of who is in office—and this kind of legal act almost invites disproportionate and unintended consequences. How extraordinary that they should be pursuing us even as we blast off and leave our ancestral planet. We cast off the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God and we find that, even so, the clammy grip of the regulator drags us back into its orbit.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for her homework and her explanation of these SIs. I always particularly like her style because there is a slight ironic tinge to everything she says, which always adds something to the explanation of rather technical SIs. I will not be as poetic or lyrical as the noble Lord, Lord Hannan, I am afraid, but I suggest that he needs immediately after this session to put down a fatal Motion against these SIs on the Floor of the House to move his position forward.

One of the fundamental things that I welcome here is the splitting of promotion and regulation. It is one thing that we have learned from government and administration. We start from a good basis.

I hope that the Minister will forgive me if I have got this wrong but, having read through the SIs, although the intention is for the Secretary of State to delegate powers to the Civil Aviation Authority, I could not see it named in the regulations. If that is the case—I may be wrong—why not? It seems to leave open the possibility that the Secretary of State could appoint anybody to this role. I know that consultations with the CAA have taken place, but it seems strange that this is not in the regulations. I may be wrong; maybe I read the wrong one.

The third-party limit clearly makes sense in terms of commercialisation, but nowhere are we given to understand what those financial limits are, what they are likely to be and what the residual public liability to the taxpayer is likely to be. I would be interested to understand from the Minister some of the mathematics or the potential risks to real money, rather than just the principle.

I do not think the Minister mentioned the definition of a “suitable person” who may hold a licence. Again, I look at this more broadly. A completely unrelated area where similar regulations have been introduced is the home parks industry, where there are notorious owners of mobile home parks. The Government have tried to bring in regulations about suitable persons, which I welcomed, but all that happens is that those companies nominate someone who has a reasonable background, so the people who manage the businesses are those who would have done so anyway. How robust does the Minister see the process being in such an important industry, which includes technologies that are inherently dangerous? I would be interested to understand that.

More broadly on space strategy, how is the £400 million purchase of OneWeb proceeding and do the Government still see that as an alternative to Galileo? A quick answer on that would be very useful. I understand that the special adviser to the Government who suggested that purchase, a Mr Cummings, has left. I wonder what the situation and the intention are in respect of OneWeb, which I understand is co-owned with an Indian company.

I very much welcome our still being a member of the important European Space Agency, it not being an EU institution. I would be interested to hear from the Minister how our work on the Copernicus project is proceeding and whether British companies are able to access supply chains.

On the overall strategy that these SIs should fit into, my brief research indicated that the previous space strategy was in 2015. Space quite rightly got a mention in the integrated review, but it was very brief. Our expenditure and forecasts are still well below those of France and Italy, as other European nations we might compare ourselves with, so what are we really trying to do in this sector?

My Lords, I was privileged in my role as president of the CBI to chair the B7 summit, which fed in to the G7. One area we discussed was digital, and one of our participants said, “Thank God for digital in this pandemic”. What was also said clearly was that the more digitisation we have, the more vulnerable we get, particularly with regard to cybersecurity. Yes, we hear the cliched term of space being the final frontier; well, that frontier is here right now, with us. Not only is this fantastic news but it makes us more vulnerable. These regulations are therefore absolutely necessary, in the right proportion.

I am proud to be an honorary group captain serving in 601 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, and we now have our space command, which will be vital for our defence capabilities. The fantastic integrated review of our global diplomatic and defence strategies that was just published, with a tilt to the Indo-Pacific, spoke in great detail about our space capabilities. Our Armed Forces may be small in numbers compared with those of the United States, China or India, but our service personnel are the finest of the finest, and our capabilities are respected worldwide. That goes very much for space as well.

The Explanatory Memorandum to the Space Industry Regulations 2021 states clearly that the purpose of the instrument is

“to enable the licensing and regulation of spaceflight activities, spaceports and range control services in the UK”

and that the regulations are designed to enable

“launches by the early 2020s and promote growth, innovation and sustainability whilst protecting public safety, security and the UK’s international relations.”

Once these regulations are enforced, they will work along- side the 2018 Act, as the Minister said, and the Outer Space Act 1986. They will also work alongside other legislation such as on aviation, and on health and safety.

In addition, these provisions speak specifically about the market for small satellites, where the UK is strong and where we have a disadvantage because of our existing launch business models. The demand for launching small satellites is forecast to be greater than the launch supply over the next decade. At the moment, UK small satellite providers must launch on rockets designed for much larger satellites, as these have traditionally been the main customers for launch services. That creates a dependency where the UK small satellite providers have fewer choices.

Creating the regulatory conditions to allow launch to take place in the UK will open up a new, competitive market in the global space economy. This will have lots of benefits: it will feed into our national space strategy, enable UK launch options, and reduce cost and delays, which will be terrific. Domestic access to space would also provide the UK’s scientific community —this is absolutely terrific—with lots of research and development in exploration, discovery and the exploitation of revolutionary spaceflight technologies. The statistic given is that with public investment in the space industry returning an average of £6 in benefits for every £1 invested, the UK strategy of investing in and enabling industrial capabilities will deliver strong value for money, space sector market growth and spillover benefits for the wider UK economy for years to come.

There was also a publication in March from the Department for Transport, the business department, the Civil Aviation Authority and the UK Space Agency, titled Unlocking Commercial Spaceflight for the UK. The foreword written by the Ministers starts off:

“It was once said that space was the final frontier”.

It refers to how in 1961, 60 years ago,

“Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel in space”.

It continues:

“The traditional space sector is changing and today we move … to making space”

more accessible to all people on this planet and

“to making that final frontier a new region for growth and prosperity for the whole of the United Kingdom.”

It talks about being at

“the dawn of an exhilarating new era that will forever change our relationship with space to the benefit of all”

and an “unparalleled opportunity for growth”. I agree with all that, because space is fundamental to the UK. It enables the defence and security of our nation, and empowers our society. It can help in every way in our daily lives—in telecommunications, for example—and we are terrific at innovation and enterprise. Our universities are the best in the world, along with those in the United States of America.

Building on our small satellite industry and the thriving commercial spaceflight market are fantastic opportunities. The Government have an ambitious target to grow the UK’s share of the global market to 10% by 2030. The cornerstones of this are these regulations. Euroconsult, a leading satellite consulting firm, estimates that 1,250 satellites will be launched annually this decade, with 70% of them for commercial purposes.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, mentioned OneWeb, which is a great example of collaboration. The satellites are built at a OneWeb-Airbus joint facility in Florida, which can produce two satellites a day. The launch rollout of the satellites is facilitated by a French company, Arianespace, using Russian-made Soyuz rockets, and the company has announced plans to enter the Indian market by 2022. This is all globalisation in action.

BT and OneWeb have signed a deal to explore ways to provide broadband internet to remote areas of the UK. This is fantastic news. It will improve the speed at which people can access data in remote areas. Will the Government commit to 100% broadband coverage, not the 85% they said in the spending review in November? It should be 100%, and this OneWeb and BT collaboration should enable it to happen.

It has been amazing: OneWeb has launched its most recent batch of 36 satellites into low-earth orbit, bringing the company one step closer to starting commercial activities by the end of the year. Of course, OneWeb is a collaboration between the British Government and my friend Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, one of India’s largest communications companies. More than 70% of rural Indians do not have access to the internet. That problem is really worrisome. This will help, including in digital banking.

The cornerstone of our ambition is the legal and regulatory framework we have created. The UK space sector will strengthen our national capabilities, create high-skilled jobs and drive economic growth. This framework will support safe and sustainable activities in the unique environment of space while ensuring that public safety is at the heart of the regulatory approach. As long as it is flexible, it will help the UK to realise its space ambitions.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for her introduction. Like my noble friend Lord McNally, I am concerned that such lengthy SIs receive only seven-minute speeches, which inevitably undermines attempts at scrutiny.

I fear that my questions will be rather more down to earth than those of one or two of the previous speakers. On page 65 of the Space Industry Regulations, Regulation 95 says:

“A spaceflight operator must ensure that the spaceport or other place used for the operator’s spaceflight activities is fit for those activities.”

That is a very loose statement and is in itself pretty meaningless. Can the Minister explain what that will mean in practice?

Regulation 98 refers to the loading of dangerous goods on to a launch vehicle and the need for that to be specifically permitted by licence. The term “dangerous goods” in relation to spaceflight opens in my mind a worrying range of possibilities, so can the Minister explain what this would cover and how it will be dealt with as part of the licensing process?

Chapter 6 of Part 11 refers to security in relation to US technology. From the Explanatory Memorandum, I see that we have signed an agreement with the US on that country’s participation in space launches from the UK. This is probably a very good idea, but can the Minister tell us more? How extensive is that agreement? When was it signed? Have we signed or are we planning to sign agreements with any other countries? We remain a member of the European Space Agency, so are there plans to sign agreements with any European countries?

Section 4 of the Space Industry Act allows for exemptions to the need for a licence. This involves an element of recognition of authorisations and approvals issued by other countries. How will this be managed? Will it be done on an ad hoc basis, with one exemption for one potential launch, or will it be systematic on the basis of a country-to-country agreement, as referred to in the agreement with the US?

The CAA has been appointed as the single regulatory body for all aspects of commercial spaceflight. My noble friend Lord McNally asked about capacity issues. The Minister will know that I have said several times before that the CAA seems to be the maid-of-all-work on aviation, from regulating private aviation to drones, bringing home stranded passengers and now spaceflight. There has been criticism lately that, as an organisation, it is simply overstretched and has not been able to concentrate as it needs to on issues such as private aircraft safety or ensuring that airlines refund passengers appropriately when flights are cancelled. Can the Minister assure us that it will be given the additional funding it will need?

I have concerns about leaving the CAA solely in charge. For instance, licensing will require consideration of issues of national security, so what is the role of the security services, and will they have an automatic input into CAA decisions in this respect? After all, satellites raise highly technical and complex security issues.

The licensing of spaceports involves the evaluation of risks and environmental impact. This is a very crowded island, and even sparsely populated areas are not far from densely populated ones, so the potential risks are greater. Will there be an obligation on the CAA to consult local authorities and environmental bodies before granting a licence? The latter are of course different in the four nations of the UK, and planning legislation varies significantly.

As my noble friend Lord McNally said, HS2 has proved how controversial infrastructure in unspoiled rural areas can be. Protestors at spaceports would pose a particular hazard. How will the CAA work with and consult local police forces? Can the Minister spell out for us how devolution is taken into account in these regulations? The siting of spaceports, whether in north Wales, Cornwall, Scotland or wherever else, will be disruptive and, therefore, must be done with the grain of local opinion.

I recall that, during debates on the Space Industry Act, it emerged that, prior to a launch, local roads near the site would have to be closed for several days for security reasons. That would be disruptive to the local economy and services, especially in remote rural areas, where the closure of one road may lead to an additional round trip of 20 miles or more—so we must work closely with local people for this to work well.

Obviously, so-called return operators also have to be licensed, and the return might well be into the sea. UK coastal waters are also very crowded, so what consultation must the CAA undertake with the coastguard and other maritime agencies before granting a licence? I realise that the Minister will be unable to answer all my questions in the time that she has been allotted, but I am sure she will agree to write to me about those she cannot tackle now.

My Lords, the instruments debated today intend to support the establishment of a UK spaceflight programme, and I am sure the whole House will want to wish it the best of luck. The legislation enables the licensing and regulation of spaceports, control services and the flights. While I will come later to the specific provisions of these instruments, it would be helpful first to consider the wider intent of the programme.

For almost 70 years, the UK Government have sought to facilitate satellites and space travel through various civil programmes, but this one, enabled by these regulations, differs from them all. While most of its predecessors aimed, at least in part, to satisfy curiosity and accrue human knowledge, the primary mission of this programme is economic growth. Given the prospect of commercial space travel, the Government are right to consider how the UK can benefit.

However, my concerns relate to a lack of ambition—first, to use the economic growth for transformational purposes and, secondly, for what space travel can achieve beyond economic growth. On the first point, the government support for future industries should seek to support new high-quality jobs across the UK, but there is no strategy behind this programme for doing exactly that. The space programme will, we hope, generate high-skilled jobs and economic prosperity, and the effect of both should be felt across the UK and utilised to address regional inequalities.

On top of this, no steps seem to have been taken to ensure that the UK’s space industry benefits the wider supply chain in the United Kingdom. Can the Minister confirm how the Government will ensure that any prosperity resulting from the programme is felt across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom? Can she also confirm what steps the Government will take to ensure that UK steel is used in the development of the UK’s space industry?

On the second point, although we all recognise that the UK space industry can bring enormous economic benefits to the UK, I hope the Minister will agree that the UK’s role in space travel should not be limited to strict commercial interests only. Space travel and exploration can allow research to take place for endless purposes, such as biomedical and climate advancements. Can the Minister detail how the UK space industry will support scientific research?

There are several areas of the regulations on which I would appreciate clarification from the Minister. As she explained, the first three instruments implement the Space Industry Act; I will refer to each briefly.

The first instrument deals with appeals. Much of it is focused on appeal panels and their functions. Can the Minister confirm the total estimated budget for these activities? Also, can she confirm whether the appeals procedure has been developed with any representatives from the space industry?

The second instrument, which is the most substantive, assigns the Civil Aviation Authority as the regulator. Can the Minister confirm whether it will have any additional budget? Further, do the licensing arrangements reflect similar ones in countries with similar space industries?

The third instrument relates to accident investigation. I would be grateful if the Minister could confirm why it has not been introduced as primary legislation, given its broad scope and provisions.

Finally, on the contracting order, can the Minister explain to the Committee whether any preparations have taken place to assign these functions prior to the commencement of the legislation?

As I said, I wish the UK satellite programme the best of luck. We all want it to succeed but, given the incredible potential for the industry, I hope that the Minister will recognise the enormous possibilities. Prosperity generated must be used to support other industries and benefit regions that are often ignored. Further, the Government must be alert to opportunities to use space travel for research and scientific purposes. I hope that the Minister can provide clarification on my questions and assure the Committee of the Government’s wider intentions for the industry.

My Lords, as always, all the briefing in the world will not cover all the questions asked by noble Lords. Nor will I be able to make some—at least one—of the commitments asked of me without getting into deep trouble. That means that I will write with a number of answers to the questions asked today.

Our aim here is simple, even if the regulations are a little lengthy and complex. We want to be the first country in Europe to offer small-scale satellite manufacturers a direct end-to-end route to launch from Europe, building on the UK’s leading small satellite industry. As the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, pointed out, it is absolutely critical that we are part of this industry. He reminded noble Lords of the huge opportunities ahead; I welcome his support.

The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked specifically how the regulations would support our scientific research communities. The answer is simple: they will provide domestic access to space for the UK’s scientific community, for whom space is an invaluable research environment, opening up new opportunities for exploration and discovery, and it could accelerate the exploitation of revolutionary future spaceflight technologies.

The noble Lord also asked about investment in the regions and whether the industry would benefit the whole of the UK. The UK Space Agency has awarded substantial grants across the UK. This will help the UK’s growing spaceflight capabilities. Such investment includes £31.5 million to help establish vertical launch services from Scotland, comprising £2.5 million to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop Space Hub Sutherland, £7.35 million as part of £20 million central and local government funding to support horizontal launch by Virgin Orbit from Spaceport Cornwall, and up to £1.3 million to develop business plans for small satellite launch and sub-orbital flights from airports in Machrihanish, Snowdonia and Cornwall.

These places are across the UK. The funding will support new, quality jobs in all these regions. I point out to the noble Lord that we will not be directing the supply chain as to what it can and cannot buy from whom, because I think we all recognise that this is a very technologically advanced industry, but of course we will work with the sector as it develops to make sure that we have the skills, the technology and the materials so that if we are able to provide those domestically, we will.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked whether we really will have our first commercial launch by 2022. I really hope so. I admit that this timeframe is a little ambitious, but with this level of investment and these regulations I think we are laying a very solid foundation. As I have mentioned, space is a reserved matter, so the regulations apply to the entire UK.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said that we needed a space strategy, while the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, felt that there was a lack of ambition and direction from the Government. I can assure all noble Lords that this is absolutely not the case. The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the Government as a whole are determined to develop an ambitious national space strategy by the summer. This will ensure that the UK can establish itself as a global player and seize these economic opportunities.

Back down to earth, so to speak, and on the CAA as regulator, I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that the CAA is specified in Part 2 of the Space Industry Regulations, but I will clarify that in writing. I welcome the intervention from my noble friend Lord Hannan, who I see has printed off all 500 pages of the regulations et cetera. I am not entirely sure that he has read them all, so I hope he will use that paper as scrap if he does intend to use them in future.

It is important that we focus on the role of the CAA, which is a hugely capable regulator. It is gearing up for its role as the regulator. It will utilise its existing space capability and transfer nine or 10 staff from the UK Space Agency and take on new staff, including specialist engineers. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, asked, as she does with regularity, about resourcing for the Civil Aviation Authority. I reassure her that it will have a dedicated budget for regulating space flight. It has the capacity and some of the skills already, and it will be able to build on those.

The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked when the CAA would undertake responsibilities under the contracting-out order. The functions under that order will not be transferred to the CAA until it comes into force, which I believe will be later in July, but, of course, practical preparations have already been made at the CAA.

On the question from the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, about whether UK licences reflect similar licences in other countries with similar space industries—absolutely. These regulations have been developed alongside a careful examination of international licensing regimes all over the world, including New Zealand, so that we make sure we are as up to date as, and hopefully even more up to date than, the competitors. I have already mentioned that we expect the licensing process to begin very soon. We expect engagement from the operators with the CAA to make sure that the process is as smooth as possible.

Here comes my mea culpa of the day. I said in my opening remarks that it will take six to 12 months for an application to be processed. I misspoke: it is six to 18 months. The timeframe will depend on a number of factors, such as whether the mission is bespoke or novel, how mature and experienced the operators are and the nature and completeness of the information provided. So many things will make up these applications, so some will be simpler than others.

The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, also raised some queries regarding the costs, particularly relating to appeals. We are not expecting many appeals, if any, in the next few years. Those costs will be picked up with normal departmental allocations. I would like to reassure him that the whole appeals process has been developed alongside representation from the space industry, as indeed have all these statutory instruments. I assure all noble Lords that we had a detailed and lengthy conversation with the industry and undertook a formal consultation as well. Noble Lords will also be interested to know that we recently published the outcome of the consultation into the draft environmental objectives—something that I know is important to all of your Lordships.

I suspect I will probably write in more detail on insurance and liabilities, because this issue was subject to a lot of consideration over the passage of the Bill and as we built up to these regulations. Absolutely key to the Government is that we want to tailor the insurance required to the risk and diverse range of UK launch activities expected. The Government have committed to carrying out a review of liabilities and insurance in 2021. This will include the issues raised by respondents in the consultation. Work is under way, and more information will be available in due course.

On accidents, the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked why the accident investigation SI had not been introduced as primary legislation. We feel that it is appropriate. When noble Lords discussed the Space Industry Act in 2018, it was very much presented as a framework Bill. We knew that the regulations coming out of that would potentially be complex, and the House was happy with that at the time. Although it is a new industry, of course, as a nation we are very good at accident investigation.

I fear I am slightly running out of time, so I just want to make sure I have covered the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, about planning permissions and other consents. The CAA will provide the operating licence, but many other consents, considerations and planning permissions, et cetera, will be needed. Therefore, to have a successful spaceport, operators will need to work with the local authority to make sure that everything is done to protect the environment and the local community. It will be really critical that they have the support of the local community. I fear that the Chair has started the countdown to lift-off, so I commend these instruments.

Motion agreed.