An illustration of the proposed salmon farm, which was approved by SEPA but rejected by planners.

Loch Long Salmon appeals against rejection by national park planners

Refusal of semi-closed containment fish farm was ‘based on fear and a misunderstanding of the technology’


Loch Long Salmon (LLS) has submitted an appeal for its proposed semi-closed containment salmon farm at Beinn Reithe near Arrochar, which was rejected by the Board of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park in October last year.

The company claims the board’s decision, which was made on the recommendation of planning officers, was fundamentally flawed and based on fear and a misunderstanding of the technology and its potential to transform the Scottish aquaculture sector.

LLS wants to site four floating 140-metre circumference enclosures in Loch Long, together with a fifth enclosure to be used as a harvest pen. The enclosures would have impermeable fabric walls and standard nets inside.

Will collect 85% of waste

The company has said it will be able to collect more than 85% of fish faeces and uneaten feed from the enclosures and pump it ashore for treatment.

The LLS plan should also remove or drastically reduce problems with sea lice, which parasitise farmed salmon. Water for the semi-closed containment systems (SCCS) is pumped into the enclosures from a depth of more than 20 metres, beneath the layer of the water column where sea lice live.

The National Park based their view on a misunderstanding that our plans were the same as existing open net salmon farms. This is fundamentally flawed.

Stewart Hawthorn

In January last year, LLS was granted a Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) licence from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to farm up to 3,452 tonnes of fish in the enclosures at Beinn Reithe.

The company said it believes the National Park Board failed to sufficiently and correctly consider the opinions of SEPA, Forestry and Land Scotland, NatureScot and the Arrochar Community Council, which all believe the project can proceed.

Transformative technology

LLS managing director Stewart Hawthorn said: “We believe the National Park’s decision to prevent this proven, transformative technology being brought to Scotland for the first time was based on fear and a lack of knowledge and understanding.

“The National Park has no experience of handling this kind of application and, rather than listening to experts such as NatureScot, SEPA and Forestry & Land Scotland, who all said the project could go ahead, they based their view on a misunderstanding that our plans were the same as existing open net salmon farms. This is fundamentally flawed.

“Through the appeal process, we are committed to demonstrating that we can bring positive change to Scotland, radically improve the environmental performance of salmon farming and secure jobs in rural areas.

Collaborated with planners

“We carefully sited and designed the farm with the full collaboration of the Park’s planning team and, as a result, the farm can’t even be seen from more than 99% of the Park. Officers also used concerns regarding theoretical impacts on a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) more than 55km away from the development in justifying the decision to refuse the application. This was contrary to the expert advice from NatureScot who confirmed the project could safely proceed.”

LLS said the use of an impermeable membrane removed the threat of attacks by seals, as well as solving the lice problem.

It added that hundreds of farming cycles with SCCS technology in other countries had proven these facts, as well as showing no escapes.