The Space Sector & The Built Environment Conference: Q&A with John Catchpole

We caught-up with John Catchpole, Legal Director at Foot Anstey and speaker at The Space Sector and The Built Environment Conference, to ask what he is most looking forward too.

Foot Anstey is one of the UK’s fastest growing law firms and has a significant national presence, what do you attribute to your ongoing success?

Over our history we've grown to be a significant regional and national player working with leading brands and individuals predominantly across seven key sectors: Developers, Energy & Infrastructure, Islamic Finance, Private Equity, Private Wealth, Retail & Consumer.

This sector-led approach has enabled us to become industry leaders and experts in advising our clients on a multitude of legal enquiries. We tailor our advice to be in-line with our clients' needs and go above and beyond to make sure we deliver exceptional legal services and advice.

As we have grown, we have taken steps to give back to local communities where we live and work. We give back in a variety of ways, our Foot Anstey Foundation initiative, which was set-up in 2017, provides grants to local grassroots organisations.

The space sector is one of your specialisms, what has led to this legal interest and what are some of the projects you have supported?

The space sector has been a hot topic of conversation for a number of years now. We have seen the commercial space sector develop and grow rapidly, presenting more and more exciting opportunities in the upstream and downstream elements of the sector.

A number of our lawyers are involved and have an interest in the space and aerospace industry and our offering is now nationwide. Because of the rise in opportunities, many of them have now been involved in projects that have supported the growth of the space and aerospace sector, and through our Cornwall-based office we have worked very closely with the rapidly growing Cornwall Space Cluster.

The space sector is ongoing a rapid expansion within the UK, what have been some of the most significant legal hurdles to overcome for projects in this field?

The Space Industry Act received royal assent on 15 March 2018. This was a significant milestone in the progression of the UK space sector as it provided a high-level framework for commercial spaceflight operations to take place from the UK.

Fast-forward to today and, after some delays, the secondary legislation has been laid before parliament. Once this has been approved, the regulator will be able to receive and review applications for:

  • Spaceport licences
  • Launch vehicle operator licences
  • Range control licences
  • Satellite operator licences

This will enable spaceport and launch projects in the UK to move forward. As it stands, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), an internationally respected regulator with an excellent track record in managing safety, has been appointed to take on the role of spaceflight safety regulator once the new regulations come into force.

However, it should be noted that, even when the new regulations are approved by parliament, there will still be a number of issues facing the space sector that need to be worked through, including liability and spectrum availability. Also, there is a range of wider commercial issues to contend with, such as the availability of funding and investment, skills shortages, and international competitors

What are some of the upcoming projects within the space sector that you are most excited to see come forward?

The first launches from UK soil should take place in 2022. This will be a momentous occasion for the UK space sector.

Also, there are some key projects moving forward that draw together industry and academia, such as the development of Space Park Leicester.

What are you most anticipating about the upcoming Space Sector & The Built Environment Event and why did you choose to sponsor the second panel of the day?

We chose to sponsor the Space Sector & The Built Environment event because it's an opportunity for a range of industry experts to gather and share their experiences on this rapidly growing industry.

We're particularly looking forward to hearing about future projects businesses might be working on and meeting attendees. This event comes at a great time for the sector because the UK government has set ambitious growth targets for it. To achieve these targets we will need people, businesses and organisations to understand the potential opportunities within the sector, and the event is perfectly positioned to enable future collaboration and engaging discussion around these targets and opportunities.

We have found that the UK space sector is a very collaborative and supportive industry and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone.

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