An illustration of Aquacultured Seafood's proposed land-based salmon farm, showing the proximity of housing and the Humber estuary (bottom of picture), along with higher existing buildings in the top right of the picture.

Planning bid prepared for Grimsby salmon farm

Aquacultured Seafood hoping to harvest within four years after meeting with locals

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Aquacultured Seafood Ltd, which is proposing to build the UK’s first commercial scale land-based salmon farm on the northern outskirts of Grimsby, expects to apply for planning permission within the next two to six weeks after what it said was a successful meeting with local people concerned about the project.

If all goes to plan, Aquacultured Seafood will be harvesting its first fish at the 5,000-tonne facility within four years.

The company held a public consultation event in the northeast Lincolnshire fishing and seafood processing town on Tuesday evening, and director Mike Berthet was pleased with the way it went.

“About 60 residents came along to voice their concerns,” said Berthet, who added that the company was able to correct misunderstandings and misinformation about the planned salmon farm, which would be sited at New Clee between the Humber estuary and a residential area.

“They were concerned about potential smells, lighting, noise, and the impact on their views,” said Berthet, who has four decades of experience in the seafood sector. “We allayed their fears, I hope, about those things.”

No smells from plant

On the issue of smells, Berthet said a specialist consultant has identified three possible sources of odour - fish processing waste, solids from wastewater treatment, and water treatment and exhaust air – and all three would be contained within the facility.

The processing waste will be separately stored in sealed, refrigerated containers and securely transported to nearby processors; solids from wastewater treatment will be stored in a sealed container and removed from the site daily by credible waste management partners; water treatment and exhaust air will be continuously recycled and cleaned and carbon filtered when discharged to external air.

Mike Berthet: Successful meeting with residents.

Regarding noise, Berthet said it would be “around the level of a hair dryer”. On its newly updated website, the company says independent consultants have confirmed that the noise will be low impact to all residential dwellings at all times.

Any external lighting will be “dark sky” lights that project downwards, preventing light pollution.

10 metres high

Aquacultured Seafood’s building will be long, taking up most of the length of the estuary side of the 27-acre site, but won’t be as high as some other industrial buildings nearby, which are up to 30 metres, said Berthet.

“We are around 10 metres high and will reduce that if we can. We have gone back to the planners (to talk about that).”

Residents have also asked the company if the building can be sited five or six metres further north, said Berthet.

“We will see if we can do that,” said the director, who spent 32 years as fish and seafood director for M&J Seafood and almost nine years working for certification body Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP). “We have to go back to our technology providers to make sure that we don’t hinder access to equipment by doing that.”

AquaMaof technology

Israeli supplier AquaMaof will provide all of the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology for the Grimsby facility. Aquacultured Seafood’s website now features a video of the farm being built by Norwegian company Proximar in Japan, which will produce 5,300 gutted weight tonnes of salmon annually and also uses AquaMaof technology.

The search for funding for the New Clee farm, expected to cost north of £75 million, will begin if and when Aquacultured Seafood receives planning permission, which Berthet hopes will happen by the end of September.

“We have retained a London finance house which is already talking to potential investors,” he said. “The company’s directors raised initial funds and late last year we went out to family funds, etc., to raise enough money – around £1 million - to take us through the planning stage. We raised that in double quick time.”

Experienced team

He points to the aquaculture experience of the company’s board as a strong reason why investors can have faith in the project. As well as Berthet’s own long history in seafood, Craig Anderson is the former chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Company (now Bakkafrost Scotland) and James Fox-Davies is a director of Three-Sixty Aquaculture, a contract RAS facility in Swansea.

“We’re not all desk jockeys. We’re in the business,” said Berthet.

If Aquacultured Seafood wins planning permission in the autumn, construction work on the site – a former railway siding – is expected to begin next March and last 18 months. The first ova will then be hatched at the facility and harvested two years later.

The site of the proposed salmon RAS, outlined in red, which is west of Grimsby Docks. The photo also shows Blundell Park, home of Grimsby Town FC, and streets of terraces homes separated from the site by a road and railway line.