Cooke consults on Orkney farms expansion

Vestness barge, Cooke

Salmon producer Cooke Aquaculture is consulting with the local community on plans to relocate and expand its farms at three sites in Orkney, in the north of Scotland.

As part of the consultation Cooke will be holding public meetings on 28 and 29 November in Westray and Papa Westray, respectively, to spell out the plans for the three sites: Vestness, Skelwick Skerry and Cleat North.

Vestness would be relocated approximately 300m further from the coastline of Papa Westray in a south-west direction. Whilst there would be no increase in the tonnage of fish farmed at the site, Cooke says, the equipment would be upgraded to comprise 10 x 120m circumference salmon pens arranged in two rows of five pens. The existing feed barge will be moored to the North of the relocated site.

At the Skelwick Skerry site, Cooke plans to increase biomass from 2,500 tonnes to 4,000 tonnes, with 8 x 160m pens replacing the existing 130m pens. The company’s rationale is that this is a high-energy site, which makes it better for fish welfare and the environment. In its consultation, Cooke says: “Several production cycles at the existing site have shown that the high energy environment at this location creates optimal growing conditions that promote excellent fish welfare whilst also minimising our interactions with the environment and potentially sensitive receptors in the wider area.

“Upgrading the pens from 130 m circumference to 160 m circumference will enable an increase in production whilst making the equipment consistent with that at our new high energy site at East Moclett. This will improve operational efficiency whilst also providing a safer working environment for our staff.”

At Cleat North, the farm site would be relocated approximately 200m from the coastline of Westray in a north-west direction. The site would consist of 14 x 120 m circumference salmon pens arranged in two rows of seven pens with an associated increase in maximum biomass from 960 tonnes to 2,885 tonnes. A new dual purpose feed and storage barge will be permanently moored at the north-west end of the site.

Cooke says the expansion at Cleat North is required because the development of its second “high energy” farm East Moclett in the North Sound, and the potential expansion of East Skelwick, has led to an increased requirement for juvenile fish and fish feed storage facilities.

Cooke’s Cleat North site, Orkney

Murray Spooner, Communications Manager at Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, said: “We have been completely open and transparent in comprehensively engaging with the local community in the early stages regarding the proposed re-development projects. We look forward to welcoming the public to the consultation events.

“As one of the largest employers in Orkney and the Northern Isles, we are committed to keeping rural communities viable. Cooke’s operations keep people and their families on the islands, attract new people to live there, and help businesses to thrive and schools to stay open.”

The consultation events are being held at:

  • Tuesday 28 November, Westray Church of Scotland, Upstairs Room, 6-8pm
  • Wednesday 29 November, St Ann’s Kirk, Papa Westray, 6-8 pm

Responses to the consultation are invited by 27 December.

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