There has recently been a proposal to promote the A83 from Ronachan to Westport, along Kintyre’s Atlantic coast, as a UNESCO World Heritage Route.
Such a proposal would clearly be supported by the the completion of its trunking along that section, from Kennacraig to Campbeltown.
There are some local concerns about the impact on the proposal of a planning consent for a closed containment salmon farm, north of Tayinloan, between the A83 and the coast.
This will be a large construction – 225 metres long by 80 metres wide by 12 metres high in a beautiful part of west Kintyre, designated as Sensitive Countryside.
The developers have noted the possibility of an alternative location on the land of the former RAF base at Machrihanish which, with the wind turbine manufacturing plant already there, might be considered a more logical and coherent site.
However, there are issues there with the responsibility for and regeneration of the water supply.
These arose when the developer of the houses in the Sound of Kintyre scheme put the developing company into administration. This left the Ministry of Defence, who owned the territory carrying the troubled water supply, keeping it going – essentially as a favour and a sense of civic obligation.
A facility like a closed containment salmon farm has heavy duty water needs, which might be an issue for consideration in the planning process.
The planned building would, in fact, be significantly less visible than it may seem.
Closed containment salmon farming has a great deal to commend it in cleaning up what is a dirty industry in the way it currently operates.
This system – in operation in Canada – protects farmed salmon from the prevalence of the endemic sea lice infestations suffered in the open salmon cages.
It also and importantly, protects migrating wild salmon and juveniles – who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of sea lice attaching to them in their first migration, with salmon farms inevitably located bear the entrance to the salmon rivers.
It also protects the marine environment from the levels of pollution it must currently absorb from salmon farms – the faecal deposits, the surplus food falling through the cages, the chemical drenching of the salmon in the cages in to reduce sea lice infestations.
The propsod establishment north of Tayinloan is an experimental one – and a very welcome one. It is the first sign of movement towards greater environmental responsibility by the lightly regulated aquaculture industry. It needs to happen.
Perhaps the alternative location at Machrihanish is achievable and acceptable to all concerned – but the priority here would seem to be seeing this important introduction of a cleaner process going ahead.
There are a range of factors to be taken into consideration here not only by the planners but by individuals in deciding whether and why to object or support the application and the World Heritage Route proposal.
In our view, the two can comfortably co-exist – and the site for the closed containment process plant is also near the start of the route, meaning that the portion of it remaining visible will be quickly forgotten.
Whatever decisions are made need to be thoughtfully considered.
Details of the application can be found on the Council’s website under reference number 13/00411/PP.