Protest ahead of Orkney farm vote

A group objecting to Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal for a new offshore salmon farm in the north of Orkney has staged a protest on the island of Papa Westray.

The No East Moclett group claims that the proposed farm, at East Moclett off Papa Westray (also known as Papay) will be a disaster for the environment.

Orkney Islands Council will be voting tomorrow, 8 September, on the plans. Cooke is looking to operate a 3,850-tonne organic salmon farm at East Moclett.

The proposed farm site has already been fully assessed by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and all required modelling and data collection has been undertaken. SEPA has raised no issues or objections.

The No East Moclett group says, however, that more than 100 objections have been sent to Orkney Islands Council from residents and others, and a petition organised by the Scottish Greens has reportedly attracted 138 signatures.

An economic report commissioned by Cooke and published last month showed that the company had created 25 new jobs in Orkney since 2016, and the average salary for its 122 employees in the islands was nearly 25% more than the average for Orkney.

Announcing the plans earlier this year, Ben Johnson, Environmental Development Manager at Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, said: “The offshore location, significant water depth and tidal flows at East Moclett will minimise effects on the local environment. As well as fully assessing and modelling the site to confirm its suitability for organic salmon farming, the planning application also details how Cooke Aquaculture Scotland will minimise the environmental impact of the farm throughout its lifetime.

“If consented the proposed development will create up to six well paid, full-time seawater jobs, which we aim to recruit from the local populations in Westray and Papa Westray wherever possible.”


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