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Loch Long Salmon, the company hoping to establish Scotland’s first closed containment salmon farm, has announced it is holding a series of public consultation events to give local communities the chance to review its proposals.
The company hopes to establish a “closed containment at sea” salmon farm near Lurignish cattle farm on Loch Linnhe, north of Oban on Scotland’s west coast, and has recently formally submitted its proposal to Argyll & Bute Council.
Public consultations as lessons learned from previous failed proposal
Loch Long Salmon had earlier hoped to establish a farm at Beinn Reithe, near Arrochar, located within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. However, the proposal was rejected by local authorities in October last year, with the Park’s board stating that the proposed semi-closed containment system “has not been trialled in Scotland and there are inherent risks from an escape incident to wild salmon populations which are already fragile”.
The company launched an appeal against the decision in February 2023. Speaking at that time, Loch Long Salmon managing director Stewart Hawthorn said the decision was “fundamentally flawed”, and “based on fear and a misunderstanding of the technology and its potential to transform the Scottish aquaculture sector.”
It seems this setback has motivated Loch Long Salmon’s approach this time around, with the company undertaking a series of public consultations to inform and address concerns of local communities. The first open information days were held during the spring, in addition to meeting with local community councils.
With the official planning process now underway for the closed containment farm, the company will hold two formal consultation events in the communities of Duror & Kentallen and Appin on 14 September and 24 October respectively.
“I hope as many people as possible will come along to the next two events,” said Hawthorn, “so we can explain how transformative and proven closed containment at sea salmon farming could bring jobs and investment to the community, while addressing the environmental concerns some people have.”
However, the company’s plans are already meeting with opposition. A local community group, Long Live Loch Linnhe, is seeking to block the development on grounds of environmental impact and negative effects on local tourism.
Farm design aims to remove threat of sea lice and seal attacks, and capture waste
Loch Long Salmon’s plan includes eight closed farming enclosures measuring approximately 50m in diameter, as well as two freshwater holding units, and a closed harvest enclosure. Meanwhile, the company’s shore base would be located adjacent to the sea facilities, approximately half a kilometre west of Lurignish Farm.
The company says that from the surface its facilities would look similar to a conventional salmon farm, but below water, the design differs significantly as it pens are surrounded by an impermeable membrane, with water drawn up and circulated from deeper in the Loch.
“This removes the threat of sea lice and attacks by seals, meaning it won’t ever use sea lice treatments or acoustic devices that can harm dolphins or other cetaceans. Hundreds of production cycles using these systems in other countries have proven these facts, as well as showing no escapes, addressing a further concern around the aquaculture sector,” the company said in a statement.
The secondary barrier will also capture almost all of the salmon waste, which the company says will be recovered and used in green energy production or as a fertilizer ingredient.
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