Oban’s youth set to ben­e­fit from Bar­cal­dine in­vest­ment

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­times.co.uk

A NUM­BER of busi­nesses will need to be re­lo­cated from Bar­cal­dine’s Marine Re­source Cen­tre fol­low­ing the news that it is be­ing re­de­vel­oped as a £ 35 mil­lion salmon hatch­ery.

How­ever, many see the move as pos­i­tive, say­ing it will bring new in­vest­ment into the site, and will com­ple­ment work to es­tab­lish Oban as a univer­sity town.

Last week Scot­tish Sea Farms, Scot­land’s se­cond largest salmon farmer, an­nounced it had bought the marine busi­ness hub by Loch Cr­eran, where it plans to build a new land-based RAS (re- cir­cu­lat­ing aquacul- ture sys­tem) fresh­wa­ter fa­cil­ity, for rear­ing smolts un­til they are ready to trans­fer to sea farms, cre­at­ing up to 25 per­ma­nent jobs.

Jim Gal­lagher, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Scot­tish Sea Farms (SSF), said this new ‘ world class fa­cil­ity’ would be im­por­tant ‘in se­cur­ing em­ploy­ment for the com­pany’s 200 em­ploy­ees in Ar­gyll and the 240 oth­ers across High­land, Orkney and Shet­land. Feed­back has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive and we are now pre­par­ing plans for a com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion which should get un­der­way af­ter the sum­mer hol­i­day pe­riod.’

Con­struc­tion work is due to be­gin af­ter a se­ries of open days and con­sul­ta­tions on how best to de­velop the site, and SSF an­tic­i­pates the first fish reared in the new fa­cil­ity to en­ter the wa­ter in 2019.

Cur­rently the cam­pus serves a host of marine needs, in­clud­ing moor­ings, yacht cov­er­ings and busi­ness premises – some of which will need to be re­lo­cated, an SSF spokes­woman added.

‘The pre­vi­ous own­ers of the site [ Lith­gow’s Ltd] have been deal­ing di­rectly with their ten­ants, and we are do­ing what we can to ac­com­mo­date a num­ber of the busi­nesses who will con­tinue at the site,’ she said.

‘Ex­tended no­tice pe­ri­ods have been pro­vided to some ten­ants and di­a­logue has taken place with High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise and [Ar­gyll and Bute] Coun­cil on help­ing these ten­ants to re­lo­cate within Ar­gyll, with a num­ber of po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions al­ready iden­ti­fied.’

Stephen Divers, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Fu­sion Marine, which em­ploys 17 peo­ple at the site, said: ‘From our per­spec­tive, we see this as a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment as it will bring new in­vest­ment into the site that will de­liver a mod­ern fa­cil­ity well-placed to sup­port the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of our vi­tally im­por­tant aquaculture sec­tor.

‘We have been in di­a­logue with SSF and are ex­plor­ing op­tions and de­vel­op­ing a plan that will en­able Fu­sion Marine to con­tinue our man­u­fac­tur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties at Bar­cal­dine.’

David Smart, head of spe­cial projects with High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise, which was in­volved in the dis­cus­sions, wel­comed the news.

He said: ‘The aquaculture sec­tor cre­ates at­trac­tive high-value job op­por­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly for young peo­ple, in ru­ral lo­ca­tions. The cre­ation of 25 per­ma­nent posts there­fore is a very wel­come prospect.

‘We are now ex­plor­ing with Scot­tish Sea Farms the po­ten­tial for ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties linked to this project. This would com­ple­ment the work that is un­der way to es­tab­lish Oban as a univer­sity town and strengthen the area’s ap­peal to young peo­ple.’

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