Stamp of approval: Shetland Islands Council has given planning consent for a salmon farm with an anticipated maximum standing biomass of 4,091 tonnes. Scottish Sea Farms will surrender other consents totalling 4,944 tonnes as part of the site consolidation project.

Shetland Council backs new-for-old salmon farm project

Scottish Sea Farms wins planning consent for 4,000-tonne consolidated site


Salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms’ plan for a new 4,000-tonne-capacity site has taken a significant step forward by winning planning approval from Shetland Islands Council.

Four existing consents to farm in the more sheltered, shallower waters of Sandsound Voe – Brei Geo Inshore (1,209 tonnes), Brei Geo Offshore (2,635 tonnes), Sandsound Voe (100 tonnes) and Sandsound Bixter (1,000 tonnes) – will be surrendered by the company.

There is also a condition from planners that the nearby Fore Holm site is relinquished, due to its proximity to the new site, the Shetland News reported.

In their place will be one new farm, Billy Baa (4,091 tonnes), sited slightly further offshore where hydrodynamic modelling found there to be better growing conditions, but without any increase to overall environmental load.

Water and oxygen

Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) sustainability and development chief Anne Anderson said: “By combining four smaller consents into one location, equipped with fewer but larger pens, we’re seeking to maximise water exchange and oxygen levels – two key factors supporting fish growth – in and around the farm.

Anne Anderson says a consolidated farm will boost fish health, welfare, and survival.

“It will also be a more efficient approach to farming this stretch of Scalloway’s waters, enabling the team to concentrate their time, skill and resources in one location, further boosting fish health, welfare and survival.”

SSF has not yet secured the SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) licence which, if awarded, will set permitted levels on fish volumes and veterinary medicines in order to minimise any environmental impact from the farm.

“These levels will be informed by the capacity of the marine environment to disperse materials and any local sensitivities,” said Anderson.

First fish in 2026

Should the CAR licence be granted, the farm is likely to be stocked with its first fish in 2026, said SSF.

“Our policy has always been to secure the relevant approvals and licences first, before ordering the farm infrastructure or assigning fish,” said Anderson. “We don’t assume anything; the planning and consenting process is there for a reason."

None of the sites SSF plans to give up is currently in use, but the company has previously said that if its proposal doesn’t go ahead, it is likely to begin farming in Fore Holm (1,000 tonnes), Brei Geo Offshore, and North of Hoy (1,190.5 tonnes), which are a greater distance from each other than from other fallowed sites it has consents for.

6,000-tonne site

As part of its rolling programme of farm modernisations and consolidations, SSF has a second proposed development, Fish Holm in Yell Sound, under consideration by Shetland Islands Council.

Fish Holm would consolidate four separate consents into one farm of 6,000 tonnes, which is an increase of 764 tonnes overall on the existing consents.

The application is one of two (the other by Mowi Scotland in the Highlands and Islands region) that are helping to trial a new, improved licensing and consenting process for salmon farms.

Under the new process, local authority panners and SEPA work together to review submissions in consultation with key stakeholders, rather than each body consider the applications separately as currently happens.