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Environment / Concern over condition of Clickimin Loch

Loch of Clickimin. Photo: The Shetland Flyer/Rory Gillies

THE CONDITION of the Loch of Clickimin has “deteriorated markedly” in recent years – especially since the building of the new Anderson High School.

That is the view of Shetland Amenity Trust’s natural heritage project officer Paul Harvey, who said the diminished water quality has led to an increase in toxic algal blooms.

Harvey was responding to an application for planning permission in principle for a house around 25 metres away from the Clickimin Broch, as well as four detached homes in a corner of grassland in front of the iron age monument.

He said the applications, from Raymond Slater, offers “no evidence” that the proposed developments would not adversely affect the interest of the nearby Loch of Clickimin local nature conservation site.

“In fact the Loch of Clickimin has deteriorated markedly in recent years, most notably since the building of the new Anderson High School,” Harvey said.

“The water quality has diminished resulting in toxic algal blooms in several recent summers (including 2019), the aquatic macrophyte flora has declined and there appears to be little food available to support wildfowl.”

He added that the number of wildfowl using the loch has “declined dramatically” and is showing no signs of improvement.

“The last thing the Loch of Clickimin needs at this time is any additional pressure that might further reduce water quality,” Harvey said.

“The council would be better served taking some positive action to enhance the water quality in the loch rather than consenting to developments that might reduce it further.”

Shetland Islands Council said it was unable to comment on a live planning application.

Harvey added that he was “not persuaded by the argument that this development will not serve as a precedent to further developments within the road bounding the loch”.

A monitoring report carried out by Harvey in 2018, meanwhile, concluded that the loch “looked in a poor state”.

It added that finding the cause of this decline was “complex”.

Harvey said in the 2018 report that there was at least one open drain into the loch, while there was no buffer between the playing fields and the water.

“Presumably a considerable amount of fertiliser is applied to these playing fields to maintain the playing surfaces,” he wrote.

Harvey added that there was a “consistent trickle of dirty, sediment-laden water into the loch during the construction of the AHS.”

The loch also receives surface water from nearby roads and housing schemes.

The monitoring report added that fishermen had also noticed a deterioration in recent years.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – which maintains Clickimin Broch – had previously objected to both housing plans, saying they could have a “significant adverse impact” on the setting of the historic stone monument.

The applicant’s agent Farningham Planning Ltd said in a supporting statement, however, that the developments would not adversely affect the broch or the “integrity of its setting”.

It said that the edge of the loch has been the subject of “significant change” in recent years without detriment to its setting through the building of the Clickimin Leisure Centre and the new Anderson High School.