Bar­cal­dine cen­tre sold to SSF

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

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.

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