KAMES Fish Farming has withdrawn an application to site a trout farm in the Sound of Jura following local opposition to the plans, the Oban Times reported.
The proposal, for a 12-cage farm at Dounie, met with disapproval from residents, lobbying as the Friends of the Sound of Jura.
Kilmelford based Kames submitted an application last November for a Sepa (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) licence for 12 circular cages, each 100m in circumference, to rear a maximum of 2,500 tonnes of fish to meet demand, create six jobs and secure other positions in the company.
However, the fish farm, at Salen Mor Bay south of Ardnoe Point, drew strong local objection, including a petition with more than 3,000 signatures, collected by the Friends of the Sound of Jura.
Kames’ managing director, Stuart Cannon, confirmed yesterday that the company had now withdrawn its application.
He wrote to Sepa: ‘Kames Fish Farming has stated throughout the application process that it considers all aspects of possible impact when seeking new sites, including this proposal for Dounie.
‘Also, if there is sound scientific evidence that suggests there would be significant or irreparable damage to the environment, it would, at that point, consider withdrawing the application.’
Scottish Natural Heritage had raised three issues regarding common skate, harbour porpoise, and sea fan and sponge communities.
Regarding skate and porpoise, Kames said it did ‘not consider that farming operations would pose a detrimental impact to either of these highly mobile species found over a wide area’.
But it had ‘decided to take a precautionary approach and not continue with the Dounie project, thus preserving this area of established sea fan and sponge communities’.
Kames Fish Farming is a family business and local employer that has been operating in Loch Melfort for 45 years. It said it would continue to seek to expand production to meet growing demand for its rainbow trout, and employ local staff.
Local MSP Michael Russell welcomed the Dounie decision, saying: ‘I think the company has been wise and responsible in concluding that the latest environmental evidence, brought forward by Sepa, suggests that permission would not have been granted for this site and withdrawing their plans in the light of that evidence.
‘I am certainly not against aquaculture, having had ministerial responsibility for it when I held the environment brief post, but not all sites are suitable and establishing a fish farm in a Marine Protected Area seems to me – and many others – a particularly bad and unacceptable idea.’