Ma­rine Har­vest farm changes ap­proved

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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.

Above: Shuna Is­land

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