Go ahead for Skye organic farms

mark harvey

HIGHLAND Council has given the go ahead to two organic salmon farms off Skye, the head of the planning department told MSPs this morning.
Mark Harvey, giving evidence to the Rural Economy and Connectivity committee, said the farms were approved because of the social and economic benefits they will bring to the area.
‘It is not so much the number of jobs, but the fact that they are located in a rural and isolated area – in this case an area designated as fragile,’ he said.
‘Salmon farming offers unique employment opportunities – arriving in areas not otherwise supporting employment growth.’
The two farms were approved despite objections from campaigners concerned about their environmental impact and effect on the landscape.
The company behind the applications, Organic Sea Harvest (OSH), aims to produce salmon in as organic and natural an environment as possible in 24 circular cages of 120 metres each.
The development will create seven new jobs at each farm, which Highland councillor Kirsteen Currie said ‘is seven families that could be living in that area’.
‘That is a community centre, that is a school, the knock-on impact of well placed, sustainable employment has to be balanced with the environment.
‘This application does have due regard for the environment in that area – views don’t pay the bills I am afraid.’
Alex MacInnes, a director of Organic Sea Harvest, said the company had spent four years trying to get planning permission and would operate under ‘very, very rigorous standards’.
The application for the sites, at Tote and Culnacnoc, received backing last week from Staffin Community Trust (SCT), which said the farms could create 50 new jobs.
They would provide a major opportunity to revitalise the area by attracting new families to work at the farms.
The proposal involves fish farming roles, along with direct community benefit and infrastructure investment at Staffin’s harbour.
OSH has also agreed to make annual payments to the SCT, which will result in at least £140,000 becoming available for further investment in the community.
The company plans to produce and package locally branded salmon in Staffin before wholesaling to major retailers as organic Skye salmon. This could create 38 jobs, as well as further indirect supply and service jobs.
Picture: Mark Harvey giving evidence to the REC committee this morning


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