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Hjatland hatchery approved

A MULTI million pound salmon hatchery in Shetland was given the green light by local planners on Wednesday morning.
Work to convert and extend the existing hatchery building at Girlsta will commence as early as April, according to Hjaltland Hatcheries, a subsidiary of Grieg Hjaltland Seafood, Shetland’s largest salmon producer.
Shetland Islands Council’s planning board unanimously granted planning permission despite some concern for a disused lime kiln, which was described as in poor condition and led to an objection by Shetland Amenity Trust.
Board chairman Frank Robertson, who is a trustee of SAT, left the meeting during the debate.
The meeting heard that the developer had agreed to a number of preservation measures that would help access to the historic lime kiln.
“We believe that through our development the setting of the kiln will be hugely improved,” Grieg Seafood chief executive Michael Stark told the meeting.
Mr Stark said he was delighted with the decision as this would mean that by 2013 the company could produce half of its smolts in Shetland, rather than importing these from Scotland and Ireland.
The £3.8 million development will create nine new jobs and support the existing 195 staff on farms and in the company’s processing plant in Lerwick.
Moving to approve planning permission, councillor Josie Simpson said: “This is a very, very important part of the aquaculture industry in Shetland. I am confident that this will be a very good thing for Shetland.”
Conversion and extension is planned to be completed in 2012 with smolt production commencing the same year.