Living Lerwick - Think Local. Use Local. Buy Local. Be Local.
SIC - Free Tyre Check - 22 Nov 2019

Business / Toft residents hand in petition against net washing plant

Local residents are delighted with the outcome of the planning process according to spokesman John Laurenson (centre). Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

CAMPAIGNERS opposing the construction of a large net washing and aquaculture servicing station next to the Toft pier have handed in a petition with 144 signatures to Shetland Islands Council’s planning department.

It is this the latest action by Toft residents against the proposed development on a green field site next to a fishing pier that is set to be redeveloped and enlarged by the local authority at a cost of £3 million.

SNA Aqua Ltd, a subsidiary of Killybegs based Swan Net Gundry, is hoping the planned facility for washing, drying and repairing aquaculture nets could create up to 15 jobs, and fill a gap in the local market.

But the plans have not just triggered the anger of local residents who fear the industrialisation of their quiet township.

The petition handed to planners features signatures from people across Shetland, from Cunningsburgh and Lerwick to Hillswick and Unst.

The operator of Shetland’s other aquaculture net washing plant, Mørenot Scotland, formerly Net Services Shetland, has also strongly objected to the plans, and also challenged the accuracy of some of the statements made by the company.

Meanwhile, the council’s own development plan team has said the proposal does not comply with existing policies of keeping large industrial processes in industrial zones.

One of the organisers of the petition, which was available in a number of local shops but not online, Toft resident John Laurenson, said he was pleased with the response they had received.

“We got a response and made people more aware of what is going on. At the end of the day this could happen to anybody in the islands here,” he said.

The company behind the proposal has so far said very little in response to local concerns.

While local people feel offended that they only learned of the plans from a report in Shetland News, Dale Hunter of agent Hunter Planning said there was no legal obligation on the company to consult with residents.

A decision by planners is expected in due course.