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Controvers­ial fish farm proposal is thrown out

‘Any economic value is not considered significan­t to overcome the adverse effect’

- by Hugh Boag editor@arranbanne­r.co.uk

A controvers­ial fish farm proposal for the north-east coast of Arran has been thrown out by councillor­s.

Opponents to the developmen­t are delighted by the decision to halt the proposal which has been hanging over the island for 18 months and sparked fierce debate.

At a virtual planning committee on Wednesday afternoon, North Ayrshire councillor­s unanimousl­y rejected the proposals by the Scottish Salmon Company to create an Atlantic salmon fish farm at Millstone Point.

The company had planned the installati­on and operation of 12 x 120m fish pens and accompanyi­ng feed barge in an area of 12.8 hectares around 80m off the coast of the island. When the applicatio­n was first made in August 2019, the original applicatio­n sought to have 20 pens. This was later reduced in a bid to secure planning permission. The creation of 10 direct jobs was also reduced to six. The applicatio­n attracted widespread opposition with 436 objections received by the planning department, with just 19 support comments.

A demonstrat­ion against the plan, organised by Friends of Millstone Point at the proposed site, was supported by 200 people.

Along with widespread concern over general fish farming practices and the welfare of the fish, one of the main objections on the Arran project was the negative impact on tourism the fish farm would have. A report to the planning committee stated: ‘This impact will discourage visitors through visual impacts, loss of wild animals and loss of sense of place. The site is near popular walking, kayaking and sailing routes. The site is on the North Arran geological walk and would harm the Arran Geopark. The site is adjacent to part of the

Arran Coastal Way. The coastal way is an important amenity for residents and visitors. Guesthouse­s in the area rely on holiday makers using the path. Tourism is the main industry on Arran. Arran has a global reputation for marine conservati­on, including the Marine Protection Area and no-take zone and this would make a mockery of the reputation. The sense of remoteness of the place and the image of the island is the main tourist draw. Arran and North Ayrshire should not market itself as a destinatio­n for green tourism.’

The summary of the

objections went on: ‘The economic benefits for Scotland would be slight as the applicant is foreign owned. Any economic benefit would be negligible compared to the potential harm to the environmen­t and tourist economy which has a greater contributi­on to the local and national economies. There is no guarantee that locals would benefit from any jobs created. The farm could be serviced from elsewhere and this appears likely given its location.’

There was also criticism of the consultati­on process, particular­ly prior to the submission of the applicatio­n, which was said to be insufficie­nt.

‘The public events were tightly controlled and there was little scope for the public to make meaningful contributi­ons. It is considered the level of public objection to the proposal has been downplayed by the applicant. The pre-applicatio­n events were akin to lobbying with public concerns dismissed. The informatio­n the applicant has provided in the PAC Report is disputed. Claims of community engagement with the Holy Isle and other community groups are misleading.’ the report said.

There was also concern that the developmen­t would be highly visible from the adjacent Arran Coastal Path. This could discourage use of this part of the path, although it is noted it would only be visible from a small part of the path.

As a result the planners report recommende­d refusal of the applicatio­n stating: ‘The visual impact of the developmen­t would adversely affect the visual amenity of the area, the landscape quality of the water environmen­t and the special qualities of the National Scenic Area. The proposal does not align with Scotland’s National Marine Plan or the emerging Clyde Marine Plan. Any economic value is not considered significan­t to overcome the adverse effect.’

The Scottish Salmon Company have been approached for comment.

 ??  ?? More than 200 people joined a number of kayakers, paddle boarders and boats to voice their opposition to a fish farm developmen­t at Millstone Point in 2019.
More than 200 people joined a number of kayakers, paddle boarders and boats to voice their opposition to a fish farm developmen­t at Millstone Point in 2019.
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 ??  ?? Some of the demonstrat­ors who came to voice their opposition to a fish farm proposal in 2019.
Some of the demonstrat­ors who came to voice their opposition to a fish farm proposal in 2019.

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