PLANS for a Scottish spaceport could be grounded by poor Westminster legislation, MPs have warned.

The UK Government is planning a new law that would pave the way for commercial flights to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond.

Prestwick and Machrihanish airports in Scotland – along with sites in Wales and Cornwall – have been tipped as potential bases for such a service with the first launches to be as soon as 2020.

HeraldScotland:

However, MPs on the cross-party Science and Technology Select Committee have warned changes were needed to the draft Spaceflight Bill. They said provisions in the bill covering liabilities, indemnities and insurance threatened to sabotage the programme.

Read more: The £1m bill for electric cars doing just 6,000 miles a year

Committee chairman Stephen Metcalfe said the creation of UK-based spaceports was “a bold ambition that is matched by a real commitment from industry to turn it into a reality”.

But he added: “When a finalised bill is introduced, it will need to have been revised to avoid the risk of that ambition being undermined by some of the current provisions in the draft bill, especially those relating to operator liabilities.

“These leave open the possibility of an operator needing to indemnify the Government fully; an approach the Government had moved away from only two years ago.

“We have identified these and other areas where the next Government needs to look again, before a final bill is introduced, to ensure that it is enabling the UK to realise its spaceflight potential.”

The committee took evidence from a number of witnesses from the aerospace industry before publishing its report.

HeraldScotland:

They included engineers and scientists hoping to develop revolutionary space planes that could take off and land at British space ports.

British and US experts are seeking to avoid the more traditional upright disposable rockets which have dominated commercial satellite launches. Instead, they aim to use space planes, the kind being developed to compete with still dominant Russian technology developed during the Cold War-era Space Race.

Space planes could also be used for “tourism”, taking paying passengers in to orbit.

Read more: EasyJet plane came within 75ft of being struck by drone as it came in to land at Edinburgh Airport

However, the proposed legislation has been delayed by Brexit and the General Election.

As the bill stands, Spaceport operators would have full “no fault” liability. That means that if anything went wrong – one of their missiles or fully-fuelled space planes crashing back to earth – they would not be responsible for any damages.

The UK space sector already employs thousands of people and is worth more than £250 million per year to the economy.

In February the Government announced £10m worth of grants aimed at boosting the UK’s commercial space industry. Supporters of the bill hope Britain can have a bigger bigger share of the commercial spaceflight market, estimated to be worth £25 billion over the next 20 years.

Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad , announcing the bill, had said: “We are boldly legislating where no British government has legislated before.”

Richard Jenner, Spaceport director for Prestwick Airport, previously welcomed the bill.

He said: “Glasgow Prestwick Airport fulfils much of the essential criteria for a spaceport such as infrastructure, favourable weather conditions and relatively clear airspace. We believe that our airport is able to move at pace with the legislative process, and we are equipped to become Europe’s first space launch site with minimal investment.