Am illustration of the new wrasse hatchery, front, which was unanimously approved by planners.

Planners give green light for wrasse hatchery

Marine Harvest Scotland has been granted planning permission to build a wrasse hatchery at Machrihanish, near Campbeltown.

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The £6 million plant at Lossit will have a 9,500 square metre footprint. The development, which will create up to 10 jobs and is expected to produce 800,000 cleaner fish per year, was unanimously approved by Argyll and Bute’s planning committee on Wednesday, the Campbeltown Courier reported.

It will be located next to an existing hatchery that produces around 200,000 farmed wrasse annually in a joint programme with Scottish Sea Farms.

Site visit

Marine Harvest is also redeveloping the former Anglesey Aquaculture sea bass farm in north Wales to grow between 800,000-1,000,000 wrasse per year.

Councillors were given a short tour of the proposed site, facing Uisead beach, north of the Gauldrons, before the planning meeting in Campbeltown.

Marine Harvest organised drop-in meetings at the Ugadale Hotel and Campbeltown Town Hall in June last year, after which it reported that 75% of those who completed feedback forms were in favour of the new hatchery.

Impact on scenery

But the plan is opposed by a group called Save the Gauldrons (STG), concerned about the impact the project might have on the scenery and the local flora and fauna.

STG leader Bob Miller told the Courier: "The development can only proceed if the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Marine Scotland approve the Controlled Activities Regulations. These will provide a number of further hurdles."

Before the committee vote he raised the possibility of STG campaigners making a community buyout of the threatened area to preserve it forever.

Councillor Donald Kelly told the Courier: "I have been a councillor for 17 years and I have never received so many letters, phone calls and emails from the community in support of an application.

"This facility will put Argyll and Bute firmly on the map for a cleaner greener way to deal with sea lice."