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Marine / Fetlar salmon farm given approval but concern raised over Cullivoe road

Salmon farm off Yell. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

A PROPOSED new salmon farm off Fetlar is the latest development to have been affected by the condition of the road towards the Cullivoe Pier in Yell.

The 12-cage Cooke Aquaculture farm at the Wick Of Gruting, which could create four new full-time jobs, has been given the green light by Shetland Islands Council (SIC) planners.

But as the company intends to transport fish by sea via Cullivoe to its Mid Yell processing plant, the single-track road towards the pier was raised as a concern by planning staff.

Cooke also plans to construct the cages at Cullivoe Pier before towing them to the site by boat.

The B9082 stretch of road towards the pier, which is used frequently by the aquaculture and fishing industries and generally sees up to seven articulated trailer movements a day, is deemed not fit for purpose and was recently approved by councillors as the SIC’s top road upgrade priority.

However, it could only be 2027 before any overhaul of the road is completed.

The road has already stalled North Yell Development Council’s plans to upgrade the area’s industrial estate and install a new marina, with the community project instead exploring whether it can transport material for the work by sea instead of driving it to the site.

A condition has been placed on the salmon farm planning decision that haulage of its construction materials, feed or harvested fish is prohibited on the B9082 until suitable road improvements are completed, or a traffic management plan has been agreed.

Roads staff confirmed, however, that since a report on the condition and maintenance issues of the B9082 Cullivoe road was produced a number of minor repairs and sealing works have been carried out.

If the road has not shown any notable signs of deterioration or damage then a controlled number of additional HGV movements may be allowed, possibly in 2021 at the earliest.

It was hoped that an assessment could have come back by now, but the SIC roads manager Dave Coupe confirmed the situation with coronavirus has delayed this.

The general condition of the road, however, does not cover the issue of its narrow width and lack of passing places which can pose a problem for trucks.

Cooke Aquaculture said during the planning process that there could be alternative options for getting fish ashore, although they would be less desirable than shipping it to Cullivoe.

That could include using different piers, or potentially building infrastructure to pump fish directly into the Mid Yell processing plant.

Cooke also hopes to recruit locally in Fetlar for the new jobs which could be created.

The salmon farm, meanwhile, would feature 12 cages sized at 120m in circumference.