Legal challenge to Loch Etive fish farm –

Legal challenge to Loch Etive fish farm Published:  30 June, 2014

OBJECTORS to a fish farm development on Loch Etive say their campaign is far from dead in the water as they a raised a judicial review into the legality of its planning permission.

Friends of Loch Etive (FoLE) believes Argyll and Bute Council misinterpreted the Loch Etive Coastal Management Plan when it approved Dawnfresh’s 10-cage fish farm.

The group also claims a section 75 obligation, included as a planning condition, has not been met. The section 75 was to be agreed to by the Crown Estates to ensure two smaller farms at Inverawe West and Ardchattan Bay could not be developed once Dawnfresh began operating from the new Sailean Ruadh site.

But Dawnfresh and Argyll and Bute Council both maintain the decision made following a public hearing in Oban’s Corran Halls in January this year was legal.

The Crown Estate said on Tuesday it had not yet signed the agreement, despite Dawnfresh chairman Alastair Salvesen CBE stating after the hearing that he hoped to reach an agreement ‘within a few days’.

Guy Linley-Adams, the solicitor representing FoLE, said a preliminary review would be heard next week, with a view to beginning review proceedings in October.

He added: ‘There are two strings to this review: We think there has been a misinterpretation of the Loch Etive Coastal Management Plan, as we don’t think this new farm constitutes a “rationalisation or consolidation of existing aquaculture sites”, which is stated in the plan and, secondly, the Crown Estate has refused to sign the section 75 agreement.

‘The council has made an agreement with Dawnfresh but we don’t think that’s enough.’

FoLE has applied for a Protective Expenses Order in order to raise the review, which will limit the environmental charity’s expenses to £5,000. It has also invited its 250 members to make donations.

‘This is not sour grapes,’ said Mr Linley-Adams, when asked if the review was in response to the public hearing when councillors voted unanimously to approve the Sailean Ruadh application. ‘We are making sure the permission was granted lawfully.

‘If our case is thrown out in October it would be a terrible shame but we would still be keeping an eye on how the fish farm operates. It wouldn’t be the end.’

Objectors from the Ardchattan area, which looks onto Loch Etive, said they would follow the judicial review with interest but admitted the planning process that ended with the public hearing in January had taken its toll.

Ardchattan Community Council was an objector to the fish farm but community councillor Sian Griffiths said many people had become ‘disillusioned’ following the council’s decision.

She added: ‘The reaction I have had from people is one of “I won’t hold my breath”. They don’t want to get their hopes up to have them dashed again.

‘Objectors at the hearing left the Corran Halls that day thinking it had been a waste of time. They are still feeling a little flat, which is a shame.

‘We can’t do anything now and will just wait for the outcome of the judicial review process.’

A spokesman for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘The Dawnfresh planning application would not have been approved if the council was not satisfied that they could meet the conditions.

‘The council is fully committed to defending the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing committee’s decision.’

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