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Friday, May 24, 2024

Local MSP Objects to Developer’s Repeat Applications for Two Salmon Farms off Skye

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Highlands and Islands MSP Ariane Burgess has formally lodged objections to two new salmon farms off the Trotternish Peninsula on Skye.

Ms Burgess cited the impact that the open cage fish farms would have on the local environment and the stunning landscape that supports the local economy, and argued that the developments would run counter to the Local Development Plan.

The developer Organic Sea Harvest originally submitted very similar applications which were refused by the Highland Council in 2020.

The developer appealed to the Scottish Government, but they overturned the appeal in 2021, meaning the farms were still refused planning permission. 

Ms Burgess said:

“It is very disappointing that the developer is trying their luck by submitting these applications now, presumably in hopes that changes to national planning policy will sway Highland Council in their favour this time.

“Instead, they should have made substantial changes to the design or the location of the farms, to minimise negative impacts – but they have not done so.

“The last time around, Scottish Government planning experts found that the developments would “unacceptably erode the special qualities” of the Trotternish National Scenic Area and the Trotternish and Tianavaig Special Landscape Area.

“It could not rule out significant adverse impacts on protected bird species and the nearby seal colony.

“And it found that “the proposals fail to accord with the local development plan”.

“As the developers have only made “minimal” changes to the applications they are submitting now, they have not addressed any of these problems, and I can see no reason why these applications should be approved.

“Several constituents wrote to me as they are concerned that the environmental impacts will be ignored due to an increasingly unbalanced, blinkered focus on economic development, and the inappropriate level of influence enjoyed by the multinational salmon farming industry.

“A recent investigation exposed how intensive industry lobbying caused the Scottish Government’s wildlife agency NatureScot to withdraw their objection to another new fish farm, so it’s no wonder that communities have lost trust in the process. 

“The developer says that each fish farm would create 7 new jobs, but their plans and their previous track record call this into question.

“Even if they do create 14 jobs, is that what is most important on Skye, a place that does not suffer from lack of jobs, but from lack of local people to fill them? 

“The Scottish Government found that the former proposals would have significant adverse effects on tourism by impacting users of the coastal path and Skye Trail.

“According to the Flodigarry Hotel manager, that trail attracts over 150,000 walkers each year, many of whom stay overnight and support the local economy.

“As a constituent wrote about the proposed fish farms, “do we need these jobs, at such a cost to the environment and with risk to the ‘goose that laid the golden egg’ of tourism, which has led to prosperity on Skye?”

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