Proposal Summary

Details of the Proposal

The applicants are Lakeland Marine Farm Limited, part of the Lakeland Group, who were recently taken over and are now subsidiaries of Morpol, a company largely owned from Poland. You can see their list of shareholders here

The following details are taken from the application and supporting documents lodged with Argyll & Bute Council under ref 11/01066/MFF, which can be viewed online here:-

Argyll and Bute Council website

For convenience we have also posted the principal documents on this website here

The applicants described the proposal as a “relocation” of their existing fish farm operation at Ardmaddy Bay to a new site one kilometre further South in the Seil Sound, “where hydrographic conditions are more favourable.”

The existing farm consists of eighteen square cages bolted together in two rows, having a combined surface area of approximately 10,800 square metres. These have a permitted capacity of 1,350 tonnes of salmon.

Existing Salmon Farm

The new farm would contain two rows, each of six circular cages, described as 100 metres circumference, that is about 32 metres diameter, occupying an area of the surface of the sea of approximately 30,000 square metres, with in addition the space occupied by the service barge referred to below. The overall area involved, including mooring equipment, amounts to 179,800 square metres of seabed.

The existing operation is serviced by boats from Craobh Haven and the applicant’s base in Loch Craignish. The new one would involve a concrete feeder and servicing barge of which the dimensions are given in one of the applicant’s supporting documents. The proposed barge is rectangular and has a deck area of 26 metres by 18 metres.  On top there are a number of units, including a feed silo and a personnel room with on top of this a further deck area surrounded by railings, giving a total height of about 3 metres. The structure would be built from grey concrete and surrounded by tyre fenders.

The proposed farm would have a maximum permitted biomass of 2,500 tonnes. This corresponds to about 450,000 adult salmon.

The new unit would involve underwater lighting between the months of December and May, consisting of 2 x 1,000 watt lamps per cage powered by a diesel-fuelled generator on the barge.  To scare off wild-life “approved acoustic deterrents may be used if and when required.”

The proposal would create “3 to 4 full-time and 2 part-time” jobs.

Sources of Confusion

The applicants have not made it easy for those examining the documents and plans submitted to get a clear picture of what is actually proposed. Here are some problems.

Misleadingly they state that the site has an “existing use” as a mussel farm.  It is true that a local fisherman got a lease from the Crown Estate many years ago for this site (and two others) for this purpose, but he never operated the site as such. Thus they describe as “existing” something which does not exist and has never existed.

Apparently the applicants have acquired the shellfish lease and propose “to change the lease area and type of farming operation at Ardmaddy South from mussels to salmon.” This is also strange, as fish farm leases and shellfish leases are two quite distinct types. The extent of the amendments sought suggest that this should be viewed by the Crown Estate Commissioners in due course as an entirely new application, rather than for consent to a simple assignation.

Very few actual dimensions are shown on the plans. On the section drawing of the proposed cages a width of 50 metres is given, but the total height of the cages is not shown, nor is their depth in the water. Scaling from the drawing doesn’t work, because that would give a height of ten metres above sea level and we can’t believe the applicants propose that.  Similarly the size of the grey slab-sided concrete barge has to be estimated from  the few dimensions given and the illustration of a door. It seems odd that Argyll & Bute Council have accepted a drawing with such few measurements. Would they view an application to build a house in the same way?

The applicants state:- “A Farm Management Agreement has been defined for this area and has been signed by Lakeland Marine Farm and Kames Limited.” This is no doubt true but is not the whole story. There was a “Lower Lorn Area Management Agreement” in place between 2006 and the end of 2010, but it collapsed, per the Atlantic Salmon Trust:-  “Now the Lower Lorn AMA has collapsed, after wild fish interests in Argyll decided they could no longer support it. The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) says that this calls into question the viability of the entire policy. The collapse is blamed on the ‘serial failure of one side to the agreement to honour its commitments.’ ”   You can read more about this on the Trust website here:- Atlantic Salmon Trust.  While the agreement between the two companies is better than nothing this history does nothing to inspire confidence.  Area Management Agreements are a key part of the Scottish Government’s strategy for controlling the spread of infection and sea lice and the lack of one in a largely contained stretch of water such as Loch Melfort is highly disturbing.

Nor for that matter does it inspire confidence that Lakeland Marine Farm Limited were in 2006 fined for the criminal offence of over-stocking their unit at Shuna.