Beautiful Loch Etive needs protecting
Sir, We refer to the article by Sandy Neil ‘Fish farm operator attacks opposition campaign group’ (The Oban Times, January 19).
We would like to correct Stewart Hawthorn, the farming director for Dawnfresh, who is quoted as saying: ‘The action was initiated by a small group of privileged people, many not from the area.’
Friends of Loch Etive has more than 300 members and these are made up of a mixture of those living in the Loch Etive community and the many regular visitors to Etive.
What Mr Hawthorn says is simply wrong, but with his company’s position so difficult to defend, perhaps it is easier to attack the messenger.
And, of course, the appeal to Scottish ministers was initiated by Dawnfresh itself and it was Argyll and Bute Council, and not Friends of Loch Etive, that refused to grant the certificate that led to the Dawnfresh appeal.
Friends of Loch Etive has only ever been an interested party in this matter.
The real significance of all this is that Loch Etive is public space. It is not possible for anyone to own a sea loch.
The importance of protecting the landscape of Loch Etive cannot be underestimated.
Mr Hawthorn says he is going to discuss the matter with, among others, local MSPs and councillors. For guidance on what local political opinion is on the matter, he could do no better than read the excellent Oban Times. In the edition of January 19, the the story headlined ‘Tourism surge boosts employment in Argyll’ reported that Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, recognises just how important the tourism industry is to Scotland’s economy and particularly to Argyll.
Mr Russell recognises that Scotland is famed for its incredible scenery. It is that scenery – in this case, the incredibly beautiful Loch Etive – that Friends of Loch Etive seeks to protect from the creeping industrialisation that Dawnfresh seeks to impose on the community.
Last February, The Oban Times also reported on the activities of the Argyll and Bute Economic Forum, which brings together members of the area’s key business sectors, leading agencies, as well as local and national government representatives.
The forum made it clear that tourism is Argyll’s largest private sector employer with some 25 per cent of all private sector jobs and is growing fast, with some 30 per cent of all new employment and very substantial capital investment attributable to tourism.
Simply put, it makes financial and employment sense for the Argyll and Bute Council to seek to protect the landscape of Loch Etive and the council should be applauded for so doing.
Loch Etive needs protecting from the activities of Dawnfresh, a loss-making company that is seeking to industrialise its operations to reduce its labour costs, all for the benefit of its billionaire, undoubtedly privileged, absentee owner.
Nor is this recent appeal an isolated case. At the end of last year, Dawnfresh appealed to Scottish ministers against another decision of the Argyll and Bute Council.
After a well-attended public planning hearing at the Corran Halls in Oban last spring, the council refused on landscape grounds to allow further expansion of the farm at Etive 6. Dawnfresh lost that appeal in October.
In 2016, Dawnfresh was also served with planning contravention notices at its farms at Port Na Mine (Etive 3) and at its two farms on Loch Awe at Tervine and Braevallich, and with Section 33A enforcement notices at Port na Mine (Etive 3) and at Airds Bay (Etive 4). All these formal notices were served under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 by the Argyll and Bute Council, on behalf of the people of Loch Etive, and not by Friends of Loch Etive. Keith Macmillan, Chairman, on behalf of the trustees of Friends of Loch Etive, Fanans Beag, Taynuilt.