'Space port approved in Scottish Highlands'

News of the approval of a "space port" in the Scottish Highlands and a dispute in Cumbria over a developer's request to drop an affordable housing requirement feature in today's newspaper round-up.

Highland Council has approved construction of a “space port” on the far north coast of Scotland, The Scotsman says. Up to 12 rockets carrying small commercial satellites and launch vehicles could be taking off within the next few years from the planned 300-hectare Space Hub Sutherland site on the A’ Mhòine peninsula. Scottish ministers opted not to call in the proposals, which drew 457 responses objecting and 118 in support. Other Scottish space ports are planned, including in the Shetlands, the paper adds.

Planners at coastal Cumbria’s Copeland Council have agreed to a developer’s request to drop a requirement for affordable housing from a 20-home development, the Carlisle-based News & Star reports. The council approved the planned development in Whitehaven in January on condition that four of the houses would be affordable, but the applicant then said the requirement would make the scheme unviable, claiming the requirement was “disproportionate” in the already affordable town. According to the newspaper, councillor Graham Minshaw branded the claim “ridiculous” and said it showed “contempt” for the planning process. But the request was granted by a majority of six to three at a planning meeting yesterday.

One of the main recurring objections to wind farms, the toll they take on bird populations, could be addressed by simply painting one blade on each turbine black, The Times (subscription) reports. A study in Norway found that soaring birds of prey “benefit most from making the blades more visible”, with the white-tailed sea eagle, a recent reintroduction to the UK, benefiting most of all. “Such measures could enable more wind farms to be built in areas previously ruled out because of the threat to birds,” the paper says.

Further to the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, another of the Thames’ historic river crossings, the Edwardian Vauxhall Bridge, has closed to traffic until November for “vital” repairs, the London Evening Standard says. The crossing is the last on the west side of London’s congestion charge zone, meaning motorists now have to “either queue and use Chelsea Bridge or pay £15 to drive over Lambeth Bridge”. A temporary pedestrian crossing has been proposed but not yet funded.

Google is this week updating its Google Maps facility globally to "look more like the real world", the Daily Mail reports. The tech giant says the AI-enhanced visualisation will “make it easier to understand what an area looks like whether you’re exploring virtually or planning a visit”. Meanwhile London will be among the first cities to get a more detailed street view in the coming months, which “will allow people to see exactly where features like pavements, crossings and pedestrian islands are located”.

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