Barcaldine centre sold to SSF
SCOTTISH Sea Farms has bought Barcaldine’s Marine Resource Centre and plans to turn it into a multi-millionpound salmon hatchery, creating 25 jobs, writes Sandy Neil.
Scotland’s second largest salmon farmer, which employs 440 people, announced yesterday that it is investing £ 35 million in a land-based freshwater facility at the centre, allowing it to more than double the number young salmon, or ‘smolts’, it rears each year.
Scottish Sea Farms’ managing director Jim Gallagher said: ‘Argyll will benefit from high-quality jobs and training opportunities. Logistically, it provides everything we want, and it is close to our existing activities around Oban. This will be transformational helping us to meet the rising, global demand for Scottish salmon and grow our harvest volumes and revenues sustainably.’
Currently the Marine Resource Centre (MRC) serves a host of marine needs, including business premises and yacht moorings.
In April, MRC customers contacted The Oban Times with concerns that it was up for sale, creating uncertainty for many businesses on site. But MRC, its owners Lithgows Ltd, and Scottish Sea Farms would neither confirm or deny the rumours.
Edwin Payne of boat builder Alutec Marine, which employs five people, told The Oban Times then: ‘There will be at least 50 people affected and that’s not even considering all the yacht owners – there’s about 150 of them.
‘I don’t know if the new owner will want me still here. It’s not a good way to do business. Noone knows if they are coming or going – apart from the boat owners and they are going.’
Reacting to the announcement this week, Mr Payne added: ‘It’s been scandalous there’s been nothing. We should be talking to the landlord to make plans. I’m trying to plan my business, and people are asking me if I’m in a position to build a new boat, and I don’t know. That job’s worth half a million [pounds], and I don’t know if I can take it or not. It’s massive for me if they say we’re out.
‘We’ve never been busier, which makes it even worse. All we can do is hope there’s a deal to be done.’
With the site purchase now finalised, Scottish Sea Farms said it plans to hold open days and consultations to engage with residents, councillors and other stakeholders about how best to develop the site in a way that also benefits the area.