Choices to be made around proposed World Heritage Route down west Kintyre

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.

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8 Responses to Choices to be made around proposed World Heritage Route down west Kintyre

    • To the best of our understanding, land based aquaculture processes traditionally use fresh water, in some cases drawn from rivers, as part of their operational needs.
      We are happy for those with superior knowledge of closed containment operations to make that detail generally available here.

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  1. Clearly this part of the West Coast is where the Kintyre Way should be , not as at present over much of it , walking between conifers with no view .

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  2. Your article does not cover the carbon footprint and emissions involved in bringing salmon farming on-shore. Many experts argue that the negative inpacts, of this method, on the environment will be far greater than the negative impacts of sea based cages. For emample the total electricity and fresh water used, if the Scottish salmon farming industry shifted to land based farms, would amount to the electricity and water equivalent used by a large city such as Glasgow. Also, the stocking densities used in these contained units are more than double those in sea based cages. Each 5 kg adult salmon would have the equivalent water to that contained in a fish tank 1 metre by 1 metre by half a metre. I also wonder about the livliehood of small independent fish farmers if the contained, land based method was widely used. I suspect that many would be put out of business.
    The size of the proposed building has been compared to an Amazon or Tesco distribution warehouse. There are no buildings in Kintyre on a scale even half this size. The disused fish farm was well hidden low in a bowl in the landscape. The new building structure will be twice the height and the applicants photomontages show the sea and island views obliterated behind the structure when viewed from the A83 and points to the east of it.
    By all means we need to encourage new industries and development in A & B but they have to be in suitable industrial areas, not in Areas Of Panoramic Quality and Sensitive Countryside next to SPAs and SSSIs.
    We have to look at the proposal from a holistic stand point, not just what affect it may have on sea lice.

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  3. To give readers an idea of the scale of the proposed building it is approximately 10 times the size of the Campbelltown sports centre. Do we really want something this size on perhaps one of Scotlands most stunning coastlines. The following is a list of the designations given to the land surrounding the site: Sensitive Countryside, Area Of Panoramic Quality, Site Of Special Scientific Interest, Kintyre Goose Roost Special Protection Area, Natura 2000 Site, Ramsar Site and it is 10 metres from the Kintyre Way.

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    • While the ‘footprint’ of the proposed building might be ten times greater than that of the Campbeltown sports centre, the scale is not, as the proposal is relatively low lying, set in an area that was once a gravel pit, and partly screened by a planted bund.
      Of course the Rhunahaorine coast would ideally be pristine, with no development, but this site has already been excavated and then occupied by an onshore salmon farm – albeit of concrete raceways that weren’t contained within a building.
      The large number of formal objections listed in the planning documentation surprised me, because I think that the Rhunahaorine landscape – and environment – is big enough to cope with this development without being seriously compromised.
      That’s assuming that the farm would produce good quality food without contaminating the environment.
      The existing conifer plantations on the Rhunahaorine flats have a greater visual impact on the local landscape than this proposal would, to my mind.

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