Loch Long Salmon wants to use semi-closed containment systems like this. An SCCS has a floating collar and uses an industrial-strength PVC enclosure with a standard net inside. Water is pumped from below 20 metres to help exclude lice.

Loch Long Salmon plans 8,000-tonne semi-closed farm in Loch Linnhe

Company seeks council opinion ahead of planning application

Published Last updated

Loch Long Salmon, which was recently blocked by planners from establishing Scotland’s first floating semi-closed containment salmon farm in Loch Long, wants to create a larger farm at a different location.

The company wants to site up to eight semi-closed containment systems (SCCS) plus a semi-closed harvesting pen approximately 500 metres north of Lurignish Farm on the eastern side of Loch Linnhe. The eight SCCS would have a combined capacity of 8,000 tonnes, making it by far the largest fish farm in Scotland.

However, the use of SCCS and a waste collection system means it would have a much smaller environmental impact than an open net pen farm of the same size.

Waste treatment

Loch Long Salmon (LLS) says that 85% of waste can be collected in SCCS and would be treated in an onshore waste treatment plant. The remaining 15% cannot be collected with current technology as it is dissolved in water that is displaced from the SCCS as part of the water replacement process.

The system LLS wants to use draws water from a depth of at least 20 metres, which is below the level where sea lice are normally found.

“The primary objective of using this technology is to significantly improve environmental and fish welfare outcomes associated with marine salmon farming by capturing farm waste (including uneaten feed and faeces), eliminating breeding populations of sea lice, eliminating marine mammal interactions, and controlling the farmed environment water quality,” LLS says in a scoping request prepared by Glasgow-based Arcus Consultancy Services.

Arcus said the request document had been prepared following a number of preliminary exercises including pre-application consultation with key consultees, desk-based assessments and site visits.

LLS intends to submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA) along with a planning application and has requested a scoping opinion from Argyll and Bute Council in connection with the EIA.

Blocked by planners

In October, LLS’s application to site a near-4,000 tonne SCCS facility at Beinn Reith, Loch Long, was rejected by the Board of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, who were acting on the recommendation of planning officers.

Despite the LLS farm getting the green light from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), a 101-page report by planning officers stated that “there is not a body of sound evidence on which to rely to make a decision on this new technology”.

The officers also the development would have an industrial appearance and would erode many distinctive characteristics and qualities of the surrounding seascape / landscape.

Transformative technology

Speaking today, LLS managing director Stewart Hawthorn said: “We are continuing to explore the possibility of bringing transformative semi-closed containment aquaculture technology to Scotland, which will support rural jobs and produce a low-carbon animal protein with significantly reduced environmental impacts and increased fish welfare.

“This proven technology has been endorsed by a number of environmental groups including Atlantic Salmon Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust.

“We have held preliminary discussions with a number of community councils and have submitted a scoping request to Argyll & Bute Council for one possible site.

“We are still in the very early stages of this process and will engage fully and openly with local people to outline the benefits of this technology and answer any questions they might have.

“We are still considering our options regarding our Beinn Reithe site on Loch Long as we believe the National Park has made a number of errors in its decision and missed an opportunity to help change aquaculture in Scotland for the better. We will make a decision in due course regarding next steps.”

LLS wants to site its SSC salmon farm north of Shuna Island, on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe. The proposed site is outlined in red.