ASL's RAS facility will have capacity to produce 5,000 tonnes of salmon annually.

UK’s first large-scale salmon RAS gets the go-ahead

Planning committee votes 7-4 in favour of 5,000-tonnes-per-year facility in Grimsby

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The UK’s first commercial-scale land-based salmon farm, in Grimsby, has today been granted planning permission. Members of North East Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee voted 7-4 in favour of the project, which will create 80 full-time jobs.

Aquacultured Seafood Ltd (ASL) plans to produce 5,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon annually in a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) which will be built on a former railway siding at New Clee, between Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Israeli RAS expert AquaMaof will supply the technology.

ASL director Mike Berthet said: “We’re absolutely delighted. This is groundbreaking news for Grimsby and Cleethorpes, and it puts this technology at the heart of the seafood industry in the UK.”

Fewer food miles

The company made changes to its original plans following a meeting with local people, lowering the height of the building, and moving the building footprint further north to allow residents to maintain more of their existing view. The facility will be built adjacent to Lineage Cold Stores on land owned by Associated British Ports (ABP).

Craig Anderson, left, who was then chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Company (now Bakkafrost Scotland) being presented with the company's three-star Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification by Mike Berthet, who among other things is BAP’S market development manager for the EU, several years ago. Both men are directors of ASL.

ASL points out that the salmon farm will significantly reduce food miles by producing fresh fish within a two-mile radius of local seafood processors.

The company has been in talks with potential funders and its next step is to confirm funding, something it couldn’t do before it received planning permission. “We’ll be in touch with our shareholders and our finance house to let them know the good news, then crack on,” said Berthet.

Work starting next year

The building is expected to cost £75-£80 million, and the technology another £40m, taking the total price to £120m.

“I think we’ll get a spade in the ground in late summer ’24,” said Berthet. “We’ll be pushing very hard to do that."

The facility is expected to take 18 months to build, so the first eggs are likely to be delivered in early 2026, with the first harvest around 22 months after that.

As well as the jobs created by direct employment, Berthet anticipates a ripple effect for suppliers of goods and services.

“We’ll be using local contractors wherever possible, printers, marketeers, we’ve been using local people wherever we can. That’s a very important part of our proposal. We want the community of Cleethorpes and Greater Grimsby to be proud of this ground-breaking facility, the first in the UK.

“I’ve been up and down to Grimsby over the last 40 years as a director of M&J Seafoods, several times responsible for the salmon factory in Riby Street, so I’m not unknown to the area or unfamiliar with the operations. I used to be responsible for the salmon factory over at Fleetwood, and also our smoked salmon plant in Preston.”

ASL will produce head on gutted fish but won't carry out further processing.

Green energy

The company plans to use solar power to keep bills down, and possibly also heat from underground.

“We will be looking at geothermal because there is a hotspot close by. We will be investigating that. If it’s feasible, it would provide the heat for the water to keep it at 12 degrees, which is the perfect environment to grow salmon,” said Berthet.

“That will be a bonus if it can be done.

“We’ve got a 40,000 square metre roof which will have solar panels on, but we’ll also be looking for green energy elsewhere, and geothermal looks to be the most likely second step.”