A SCOTTISH council has voted against plans to install one of the UK’s largest fish farms off the coast of Arran.
The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) wanted to build a 20-cage site close to one of the island’s most treasured holiday destinations, Lochranza.
The initial proposed plans would have produced 5,000 tonnes of salmon each year at a 240-acre fish farm just 200 metres off the coastline.
The SSC later reduced their application down to 12 pens – following backlash from the community and concerned wildlife campaigners.
Islanders on Arran had protested against the plans due to fears that the farm would pose a danger to local wildlife and dump faecal waste in the sea.
The Community of Arran Seabed Trust also slammed the plans after tens of thousands of fish died and more escaped from the nearby storm-damaged North Carradale farm last year.
However the community is said to be delighted after it was revealed that the council’s planning team had unanimously rejected the planning application last night.
Conservation charity, the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) announced the news shortly after the vote on Facebook.
They said: “We #lovemillstonepoint and so do the members of the North Ayrshire Planning Committee who just unanimously refused the open-cage salmon farm application for North Arran.
“This wild, tranquil, beautiful piece of coastline gets to remain untouched and unspoiled by industrial infrastructure.
“Tonight we raise a glass to each and every one of you who have supported this campaign on its long journey – thank you.
“We are celebrating [covid-safe, of course] this momentous decision which rightly acknowledges the special qualities of this area and the vital importance of Arran’s natural environment and our economy and wellbeing.”
Dozens of locals and those opposed to the fish farm were pleased with the outcome.
Maris Piper said: “This is the best news! Well done and thank you to all the campaigners. Amazing job.”
And Mark Whitaker commented: “This is the best news I’ve heard all day!”
However John Murchie didn’t appear to agree with the decision, writing: “Who are all these people that don’t want to see more jobs for people who will help bring life and youth to the Arran workforce.”
North Ayrshire Council received 436 objections and 19 support comments ahead of their meeting yesterday.
Organisations including the Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland, Scottish Salmon Watch, The National Trust for Scotland, the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation and Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) all objected to the proposals.
Andrew Binnie, Director at the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) today said: “We are delighted this factory farm has been refused.
“It has taken a huge effort from hundreds of island volunteers to achieve this outcome against a well-funded multinational.
“Island residents feel the responsibility of maintaining the environmental integrity of our island not just for residents but for all the people who come here to enjoy a beautiful and unspoiled place.”
Stuart Brooks, the National Trust for Scotland’s Head of Conservation Policy said:“We’re delighted that the council has rejected this proposal and shares our views about the devastating impact it could have had on marine life in the area.”
SSC previously said that their new site at Millstone Point would be split into two licences of ten cages each with both groups of cages moored together.
North Ayrshire Council’s Planning Committee minutes from yesterday state that their recommendation would be that the salmon farm application is refused.
A North Ayrshire Council spokesman today said: “Our planning committee rejected The Scottish Salmon Company’s application on the basis that the visual impact of the development would adversely affect the visual amenity of the area, the landscape quality of the water environment and the special qualities of the National Scenic Area.
“The proposal also does not align with Scotland’s National Marine Plan or the emerging Clyde Marine Plan and any economic value is not considered significant to overcome the adverse effect.”
A spokesman for The Scottish Salmon Company today said: “We are reviewing the council’s feedback and will decide on the next steps over the coming weeks.
“We remain committed to open and transparent engagement around our site development plans including with members of the local community, local government and regulators.”