Scottish Salmon Company loses Arran appeal

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Lochranza village, Arran, along the coast from Millstone Point

The Scottish Salmon Company has failed in a bid to reverse a planning decision over a proposed salmon farm on the Isle of Arran.

The application for planning permission for a farm and feed barge east of Millstone Point, Lochranza had been refused by North Ayrshire Council. The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) appealed but the Scottish Government’s Reporter, Allison Coad, today announced that she had decided to uphold the council’s decision.

SSC had reduced the number of 120 metre pens from 20 to 12, and had proposed that the feed barge would resemble a fishing boat, but even so the Reporter ruled that the site would introduce man-made features into an isolated, unspoiled stretch of coastline.

Explaining her decision, the Reporter accepted that the farm would contribute to the local and national economy and also noted that – despite differing views being expressed – it was not apparent that the farm would have an adverse impact on either wild salmon or marine mammals.

Even so, she explained, the visual impact of the farm outweighed the benefits it would bring. As she put it: “I find the proposal is an unacceptable incursion into an isolated, locally and national valued area of landscape and seascape.”

Visual impact was also cited by the Highland Council North Planning Committee in April this year, when refusing planning permission to Organic Sea Harvest for a proposed farm on Skye.

A spokesperson for The Scottish Salmon Company said:

“We are understandably disappointed by today’s decision but it’s pleasing to note that the Reporter for the Scottish Government largely agreed with the environmental assessment that any environmental impacts would have been confined to the landscape and visual impact from the proposed fish farm site.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to play a prominent role in the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry, which is crucial to the country’s economic recovery.

“We take our environmental responsibilities and stewardship extremely seriously and we are working hard on this as a business through our Healthy Living plan, guided by our core values in our goal to become the leading and most sustainable salmon producer in Scotland. We are at the forefront of working alongside industry partners and Salmon Scotland to drive up standards and develop the Sustainability Charter, which outlines our commitment to operating in a responsible and sustainable manner.

“We have strong links with Arran stretching back over 30 years and our existing operation there continues to provide long-term employment for people on the island and is a key driver in the local economy.”