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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Scottish Space Policy Options 1

   With the UK Space Agency "the worst space agency in the world" in town I am posting

Scottish space policy options

1 - Zero business rate for any firms over 75% of whose business is space. (Virtually zero cost since there are relatively few.)

2 - 50% refund on corporation tax for space industries (using the Professor MacDonald  "Scotland's hidden tax cutting power" option).  (ref #4 on link)

3 - Set up a Czar (either civil servant or junior minister)  to help any company get through regulations, both in Holyrood and Westminster and to annually draft a bill to cut regulations that discourage investment - Virgin initially wanted to set off their suborbital Aurora Borealis viewing trips from Kinross airport but nobody in Holyrood or the bureaucracy was willing to make the effort to ease the regulatory path so they went to Sweden.

4 - Set up a zone of our airspace where orbital and suborbital launches have priority. Probably north of Glasgow airport and west of the east coast cities i.e. the Highlands and islands.

5 - My previous Space Prize motion at £10 million for the first Scottish space probe to soft land on an asteroid (probably an "Earth grazing", i.e. within the orbit of Mars, one).

6 - Scottish government to put the equivalent 1/2 of ALL taxes (ie inc VAT & income tax and national insurance from employees too) from space industry from companies located in Scotland (ie 8% of 35% of £10 bn = £140 million a year) into a Space X-Prize Fund, licenced to offer prizes worth up to the money expected in the next 5 years (£750 mn) available to Scottish companies.

    Defining when a company is Scottish and not merely a name plate on a door fronting a foreign company is a problem but one which legislators have routinely faced in other situations. I suggest those registered and paying taxes here and spending at least 65% of their money and having 65% of employees here would be Scottish.

    The calculation of money available is the total space industry here, £10 bn  this year X our share of population, 8% times the 38% of gdp the state takes in tax, times 1/2 comes to £150 million. Extending that over 5 years since there is no way, no matter how successful that all prizes will be won in less, indeed no way they all will be within that period, comes to £750 million.

7 - Space science prizes - awarded by Scotland. 2 prizes, one for anybody and the other for Scots only, for the rest of the world's scientists - exactly matching the cost of Nobel prizes (app £100K each), for the greatest individual scientific breakthrough enhancing space development.

8 - Invite and donate to the Danish loonies who want to send up a manned suborbital rocket to launch from the east coast of Scotland

9 - Space Law Institute - established in Glasgow, centre of Scottish engineering and cheaper office space than Edinburgh with the purpose, in conjunction with academic organisations around the world, to establish a framework of property rights in space designed to maximise entrepreneurial opportunities.

10 - Space Law Institute to run annual conferences in Glasgow

11 - Road from the isles hovercraft race 12 - Space burial storage facility. Government run site where ashes of those dead who pay £200 fee,  may be stored until it is possible to disperse them in deep (ie non Earth orbital, space). Other fees for other ways, up to full body disposal beyond the solar system at £1 million to be offered. This is to be a fully commercial venture taking advantage of the fact that launching prices will come down drastically making such burial possible at cheap rates in the future. The fee will be to maintain storage and dispose of the ashes only when such deep space disposal is as cheap as to be covered by the £200.

   This will probably be when we have space elevators which, can let objects "fall" down the outer end of their tethers into deep space with no energy costs. That is likely to take some time and anybody wishing to make arrangements for earlier space burial should be encouraged.

    My assumption is that a state owned and guaranteed facility may be more trusted than a purely commercial one. Nonetheless it should be run on commercial lines and the takings invested in blue chips

13 - £100 each to every kid who gets a band A physics higher

14 - Issue contract specification for an orbital based navigation grid covering Scotland's sea waters and allowing instant phone contact to boats anywhere in these waters, thereby enhancing our tourist industry.
15 - Relocate River City to a future L5 colony (this will require a digital programme to fill in the sky with the other side of the L5 colony, but it will give the programme more atmosphere).

16 - Scottish science fiction book prize (£10,000 awarded only to hard science books/films/TV in Scotland

17 - Half of Scottish lottery fund (ie 4% of UK total) to be donated to Scottish Space prize fund (est £40 million)

18 - Make donation to the space prize fund, or separate technology prizes 50% deductable against, if allowed, income tax or, if not, against council tax. 50% rate to be varied by up to 4% annually until recepts from this match those from tax in option 5. Fund organisers to be required to consider prize suggestions from donors and if rejected, to give reason.

19 - Every newborn in Scotland is given star named after them and a letter sent to them giving locarion and picture. Also available to adults for payment.

20 - Ascension Island to be put under direct Scottish control and Scotland to build port and power infrastructure and implement spaceport plan.
Total cost
 #1 currently probably a few hundred thousand. If we attract more business this would nominally increase but such increase doesn't cost us extra since the business wouldn't be here anyway.
 #2 I estimate at about £8.4million
 #3 Czar's pay and office expenses - est £200K;
#4 nil  ; #5 £10 million one off when/if won;
 #6 £150M a year initially - if this attracts new industry the cost will go up but obviously only by 50% of the extra tax take from attracting new business. Equally obviously if this is not wildly succesful in developing space industries that win the prizes the money will not be spent and the fund will be wound up (I suggest give it 10 years to work) and no money, apart from minimal admin costs, will have been spent;
 #7 £200K;
 #8 £50K;
 #9 est £1M annually;
 #10 £1M annually;
 #11 £100K annually est;
 #12 Profit-making, use some underground bunker;
 #13 £100K est;
 #14 est one-off £10 million, all recoverable by expansion of tourist industry;
 #15 humour but the BBC could hardly lose more than they are doing at present on River city;
 #16 £10K;
 #17 £40 million but none from direct government account;
 #18 £75M or half of #6;
 #19 £3 per ie £400k annually;
 #20 £200M one off, which should be funded by bonds payable from port and electricity charges thus actually zero.

= £150M going into the X-Prize Fund which is returned if it doesn't work so no cost if it fails, This is 1/15th of what the Forth crossing costs, 3/4 of the subsidy to Scottish water or 1/3 the Scottish Enterprize budget. Some of the proposals overlap and where they overlap with the X-prize fund (#17,18) would probably reduce the cost of the original. The rest is small change by government spending standards/

Or government hedge their bets by putting a smaller amount into the Fund, at least, to get massive, rather than spectacular results. For example on #6 make the donation merely 10% of all the money paid in tax by space industry (i.e. £30 million) while making it  60% of all increased tax paid by the industry in subsequent years. Obviously that increased money is something we would otherwise not expect to get and thus, even after investing 60% of the excess we are still ahead by 40% and a lot of jobs and exports.

  I have another couple of options for the Scottish X-Prize that could make it a world changer but I'll
discuss that tomorrow.

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