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Oil port fish farming ban could be relaxed

THE BAN on any aquaculture activity within the Sullom Voe harbour area could be lifted in some outer areas of the port.

A meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s harbour board on Wednesday heard that the blanket exclusion in force for many years for navigational safety reasons was no longer required.

But councillors around the table warned not to send the wrong signal by relaxing the ban and suggested the issue should be considered very carefully.

Shetland North councillor Alistair Cooper said any changes could act as a deterrent for the oil industry.

He said the idea should first be discussed with Sullom Voe Association and the new terminal operator EnQuest as part of the company’s ongoing review of its terminal business.

Councillor Mark Burgess, participating in the meeting via phone, warned of the dangers of setting a precedent and asked for more details of exactly what was proposed.

Chairing the meeting, Andrea Manson described the idea as a “first baby step in what is going to be long process”.

“We may be willing to open up parts of the harbour, but by no way the whole harbour,” she said.

The harbour board will now consider a more detailed proposal with responses from the oil industry at one of its next meetings.

Meanwhile, Shetland North councillor Alistair Cooper said the council could develop its own salmon farm in the southeast approaches to the Sullom Voe harbour area, should the ban ever be relaxed.

“The SIC should develop the site, obtain the works licence and a salmon farming company should lease it off us,” he said.

“Historically we have created a lot of assets for the industry with very little benefit to the council other than a fee for salmon being landed on a council pier.”

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