Successful emergency response exercise

With safety its number one priority, SaxaVord UK Spaceport has successfully staged the first in a series of emergency response exercises to test out all its procedures.

Involving the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Shetland Islands Council, Police Scotland, NHS Shetland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the Air Accident Investigation Branch and SEPA, the desktop session, named Exercise Ragnarok, was designed to:

  • Test the SaxaVord Spaceport emergency documents and procedures;
  • Assess the Spaceport’s multi-agency initial response plan; and
  • Gain feedback from the emergency services and other agencies to help improve these documents and procedures prior to the Spaceport becoming operational.

Matt Mason, Chair of the Shetland Space Contingency Planning Working Group, said: “This was an extremely useful first exercise and involved two representatives from each key agency as well as Working Group members such as the Civil Aviation Authority and Air Accident Investigation Branch. We now have further input and feedback to our draft plan which we will continue to refine with the group.

“Through the exercise we were able to demonstrate the long-standing and excellent partnership arrangements that exist in Shetland and build on this foundation as we move towards realising the UK’s first vertical launch spaceport.”

Ingrid Gall, SIC Emergency Planning and Resilience Advisor, added: “Contingency planning for the response to an incident at SaxaVord Spaceport is vital to ensure that there is an effective early response to any dangerous occurrence. It was clear from the exercise that each agency has tried and tested response procedures but there is always great value in bringing the agencies together to exercise the joint response with something new like the spaceport.” 

SaxaVord Spaceport Director Debbie Strang said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do at SaxaVord Spaceport and being fully prepared for any incident on site is key.  

“We have been greatly assisted by SIC and the Contingency Planning Working Group especially convened for this purpose.  

“We are especially grateful for the time set aside by these very busy people to engage with the exercise to ensure that once we become operational there is nothing we have not thought of with regards to safety on site.”