More than 500 comment on Loch Etive trout farm plans Published: 09 August, 2013
A BILLIONAIRE businessman keen to build a fish farm on a Scottish loch, near Oban, Argyll, has accused protesters of using ‘mis-information’ to skew opinion over the proposed development.
Alastair Salveson CBE, owner of Dawnfresh, visited several households in the North Lorn area last month in a bid to win support for the Loch Etive fish farm, saying he received a ‘very positive’ response from locals he visited.
He says he is increasingly confident that the proposal for his 10-pen trout farm will be approved by Argyll and Bute Council – refusing to entertain the prospect of failure.
However, the Midlothian-based entrepreneur refused to answer questions of appropriate behaviour after asking a councillor who is a member of the authority’s planning committee for his support.
In a broad interview, Mr Salveson said the farm would be of benefit to the entire area.
‘It’s very important we get some true information as opposed to false information being banded about by those against the fish farm, and we have visited quite a few people,’ he said.
‘We’ve never suggested there will be lights on our farm. Navigation lights, yes, but it won’t be lit up at night.
‘We are a real employer that has invested in the area. We have two fish farms in Loch Awe and five in Loch Etive. We have the agreement of SEPA for this site.
‘We are doing something that is sustainable. This isn’t just important for us, it is important for Scotland.’
Mr Salveson added the new farm would convert temporary positions to permanent jobs and local firms would be used in the construction and maintenance of the farm.
While Mr Salveson criticised the Friends of Loch Etive (FOLE) for its approach to opposing the fish farm, he accepted that the wording of a canvassing email sent by Dawnfresh could have been better.
The email, sent by Etive farm manager Sean Lydon, asked for ‘2000+ names in support’ suggesting eight possible reasons to support the farm, including one which stated ‘creation of jobs to local area’.
‘It was referring to indirect jobs as opposed to direct jobs,’ Mr Salveson said. ‘There’s no shadow of doubt it will create jobs.’
When visiting the area, Mr Salveson visited councillor Iain MacDonald, who lives on the shores of Loch Etive.
Mr MacDonald said: ‘I told him straight away I was on the planning committee. I can’t say much to him. I kept asking him why he was there.
‘He was asking for my support. He was just trying to talk people into supporting it.’
Mr Salveson refused to answer when asked if he considered the visit to Mr MacDonald appropriate.
FOLE chairman Keith MacMillan said: ‘I think everything to do with this application should be discussed in public and transparently. People going behind the procedures that are set out undermine the local democracy.’
More than 540 people have so far commented on Dawnfresh’s application, with the majority against the proposal.
Of the 193 local representations lodged at the time of going to press, 90 per cent – 174 – objected to the proposal.
The topic will be discussed at two community councils at length next week.
Taynuilt Community Council will meet at the village hall on Monday, August 12 from 7.30pm, while Ardchattan Community Council will hold their meeting on Tuesday August 13 at Ardchattan School, Bonawe, from 7.30pm.