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Tuesday 23rd
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

HSE served order on would-be asteroid miner

A UKIP candidate who has blasted the “health and safety madness” of space exploration was slapped with an improvement notice by the Health and Safety Executive, the Morning Star can reveal.

South Suffolk candidate Aidan Powlesland wants the government to offer £1.23 billion of prizes to fund four space technology competitions.

These include £1bn for a company that “profitably mines the asteroid belt for water and/ or platinum” by 2026, £100 million to design an “interstellar colony ship,” and £90m to design a “prototype for an unmanned interstellar probe.”

He revealed his ambitions in a blog post titled The Starry Firmament.

But research by the Morning Star found Mr Powlesland, 57, was issued with an improvement notice by the HSE in 2014 for “failure to produce a current Landlords Gas Safety Record dated within the previous 12 months.”

This was a breach of both the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

HSE records show he complied with the order.

A Ukip spokesman would not comment on Mr Powlesland’s health and safety breaches, but said of his extraterrestrial ambitions: “Sounds like a fine idea, he sounds like Lembit Opik.”

The spokesman told the Star the remarks could be compared to “what Stephen Hawking said over the past week,” adding: “I thought you were going to phone up and say he was a ghastly racist, but no, he’s just ambitious.” I

n his blog, Mr Powlesland said the “voyages of discovery in the late 15th century had “sailed literally into the unknown and in the process often died for their pains.”

But he noted that the current approach to space travel was different.

“I think a slow and cautious dispatch of unmanned probes to nearby stars before risking any human exploration or colonisation is guilty of the charge of health and safety madness.

“Interstellar colonisation should not be postponed by 250 years while unmanned missions map the sphere within, say, 10 lights years of Earth.”

South Suffolk was held by the Tories in 2015 with a 17,545 majority over Labour. Ukip came third with 7,897 votes.