Marine Harvest farm changes approved
MARINE Harvest has won the go ahead to expand two of its farms in Argyll. The company’s plans to merge five sites into four were approved by Argyll and Bute Council at the end of June, the Oban Times reported.
In one application, Marine Harvest sought to modify 16 x 100m cages into 12 x 120m cages, and increase biomass to 2,500 tonnes, at Poll na Gille, east of Shuna Island.
This is one of the farms earmarked for innovative environets, which have proved successful in tackling gill health problems during trials at Marine Harvest farms on Skye and the Western Isles.
There were objections to the proposal from the campaign group the Friends of Sound of Jura but these were overruled by the council.
The planning officer said in a report: ‘The company is dedicated to local employment, the training of employees, the use of local contractors where possible and the desire to integrate into the local environs economically and socially.’
The councillors agreed with the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the plan: ‘Although [measures] will not eradicate impacts upon wild fish, they will mitigate impacts to a point which in the officer’s view, and that of most consultees, renders the application acceptable.’
Its impact, the report said, is ‘unlikely to be significant’.
In a second application, Marine Harvest planned to boost production at its Bagh Dail Nan Ceann (BDNC) farm, at Loch Shuna, Ardfern, by expanding it from 10 to 12 x 120m circumference cages, and increasing its capacity to 3,500 tonnes.
There were 24 objections, including from the Craignish Community Council and the Argyll and District Salmon Fishery Board.
Craignish community councillors objected ‘to the creeping incremental increase in capacity posed by this application and the associated application (outwith the area but in the same water body) at Poll na Gille’.
They called for a moratorium on expansion until further research on the environmental impacts of salmon farming had been concluded.
But the planning report said supporters of the farm had argued: ‘The development of the site will support local jobs, particularly for young people with opportunity for progression, and will help retain working age people in Argyll.
‘In terms of complaints made regarding sound and light pollution, the site manager is approachable and sympathetic to local opinion.’
Councillors again agreed with the recommendation, approving the expanded fish farm.
Marine Harvest plans to close its Ardmaddy site as part of the changes and reduce combined capacity from 9,600 to 9,500 tonnes.