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Concerns raised over salmon farm plans

Initial plans which were submitted last year. Image from Shetland Islands Council's planning website.

CONCERNS have been raised over the prospect of a salmon farm being installed near to a beauty spot in Muckle Roe which is popular with both locals and visitors.

Grieg Seafood Shetland is exploring the possibility of installing eight 120m circumference cages and a feed barge to the south of Muckle Roe, which could create five jobs.

But some residents in the area have voiced their opposition to the plans due to the site’s location and the impact they say it could have on the environment and landscape.

Grieg managing director Grant Cumming said the plans are at their earliest stage and any feedback will be taken into consideration.

Ryan Johnson, who lives in the area, said “a lot of folk are quite annoyed about it, and the fact that they’re even considering putting it so close to a popular place for tourists and locals alike”.

The planned farm is located at the south of the island at Burki Taing East near to where the public road ends.

“It’s right in front of the beach, and not to mention folk’s houses,” Johnson said.

“There’s plenty of places across the other side of the voe that is appropriate for them – it’s not inhabited as in houses, and particularly there’s no beaches on the other side of the voe.

“It’s going to heavily industrialise quite a scenic area and I don’t think there’s any need for it.”

Grieg’s plans are on a site previously used for growing mussels by another company.

But Johnson said the mussel lines were less obtrusive and wouldn’t have had as much of an environmental impact.

A petition against the plans now may be created, while concerns are set to be raised at a meeting of the Delting Community Council next Thursday.

Cumming said it was “early doors” in process as it is only in the initial screening and scoping stage and he added that the plans could change after representations are made – or never even come to fruition.

“We’ve not even at the planning application stage yet,” he said.

“We’re always happy to listen to feedback and we’ll take it on board.

“If we end up with a planning application we would certainly be looking to consult locally.”

The site in question is near to two other Grieg farms at Cole Deep and East of Papa Little and Cumming said the “idea is that we would run the three of them together as a group.”

It would be served from the existing shore base at Gonfirth and the main activity would take place between 8am and 5pm, the company said.

Four full-time jobs, meanwhile, could also be created as part of plans by Cooke Aquaculture to consolidate three salmon farms on Shetland’s west mainland into two larger ones.

Cooke’s proposals for Gruting Voe would also increase the need for more seasonal workers during the summer months.

If the company receives approval, it would install 12 circular cages each at Hogan and Holm of Gruting, with the cages 100m in circumference, and relinquish its site at Mid Taing.

Cooke also intend to submit revised plans for its site at Copister in Yell after concerns were raised by the Shetland Shellfish Management Organisation (SSMO) over a mooted expansion.

The company applied last year for permission to remove existing fish farming equipment and replace it with sixteen 120m circumference cages in a different orientation.

But the SSMO objected, saying it would take away a “huge bit of the seabed” for scallop fishermen who use the area.

Cooke agreed to withdraw the application in December after meeting with SSMO members, with a modified proposal due to be lodged within the next 12 months.